Laro: Be aware of precedent in your jurisdiction

Did you know that the taxpayer’s residence determines in what jurisdiction the Tax Court “sits” and what federal circuit law applies?

These are just one of the illuminating facts presented by Judge David Laro and business appraiser Mel Abraham during their session at the San Fran Valuation Roundtable last week.  The attendees, mostly business appraisers, were amazed to learn, for example, that the issue of subsequent events could have one of five possible federal rules apply, depending on the location/jurisdiction of the Tax Court in the case. Valuation of embedded capital gains is another “split” issue: Courts in the fifth and eleventh circuits now follow the “bright line” rule of Estate of Dunn and Estate of Jelke, while others have yet to consider and decide the issue. “Which law, which court, which judge, what facts, which expert—these are all questions to ask before a case to make decisions regarding where to file the case and how to prepare the expert evidence,” Judge Laro told attendees.  The bottom line? Read and know the precedent that applies to your case.

If the federal circuit in which the Tax Court sits has yet to rule on an issue, Laro advises attorneys huddle with their expert witness and consider a different valuation approach.  Laro reminds business appraisers that “the trier of fact needs your best analysis, one that’s reliable and credible.”   When choosing a valuation approach, Abraham reminded the appraisers in the room that their role is to "tell a ‘valuation story’ in an objective, educational way.”  He added, “we take the triers of fact down the ‘valuation path’ and explain every decision point along the way—the equity risk premium cap rate, size premium, discount rate, etc.—so that by the end of the story they are looking at the result and finding it credible.”

To learn more about tax cases involving valuation, browse our Federal Taxation Case Law Collection at