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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

State and Local Government Law

Dormant commerce clause

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Steiner V. Utah: Designing A Constitutional Remedy, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason Mar 2020

Steiner V. Utah: Designing A Constitutional Remedy, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In an earlier article, we argued that the Utah Supreme Court failed to follow and correctly apply clear U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Steiner v. Utah when the Utah high court held that an internally inconsistent and discriminatory state tax regime did not violate the dormant commerce clause. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court recently declined certiorari in Steiner, but the issue is unlikely to go away. Not every state high court will defy the U.S. Supreme Court by refusing to apply the dormant commerce clause, and so the Court will sooner or later likely find itself facing conflicting interpretations ...


The Economic Foundation Of The Dormant Commerce Clause, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason Jan 2017

The Economic Foundation Of The Dormant Commerce Clause, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Last Term, a sharply divided Supreme Court decided a landmark dormant Commerce Clause case, Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. Wynne represents the Court’s first clear acknowledgement of the economic underpinnings of one of its main doctrinal tools for resolving tax discrimination cases, the internal consistency test. In deciding Wynne, the Court relied on economic analysis we provided. This Essay explains that analysis, why the majority accepted it, why the dissenters’ objections to the majority’s reasoning miss their mark, and what Wynne means for state taxation. Essential to our analysis and the Court’s decision in ...


How The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Should Interpret Wynne, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason Dec 2015

How The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Should Interpret Wynne, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this special report, Knoll and Mason discuss how the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should apply Wynne when it hears on remand First Marblehead v. Commissioner of Revenue. The authors conclude that when it originally heard the case, the Massachusetts court mistakenly considered, as part of its internal consistency analysis, whether Gate Holdings Inc. experienced double state taxation. As developed by the U.S. Supreme Court and most recently applied in Wynne, the internal consistency test is not concerned with actual double taxation that may arise from the interaction of different states’ laws. Rather, the test is designed to determine ...


Comptroller V. Wynne: Internal Consistency, A National Marketplace, And Limits On State Sovereignty To Tax, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason Jan 2015

Comptroller V. Wynne: Internal Consistency, A National Marketplace, And Limits On State Sovereignty To Tax, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

On November 12, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Comptroller of the Treasury v. Wynne. The case, which has already been called the Court’s most important state tax case in decades, asks how the dormant Commerce Clause restrains state taxation of individual income. Because Wynne lacks the usual indicia of “certworthiness,” the case raises the possibility that the Court will reshape the constitutional balance between the states’ sovereign interest in collecting taxes and the national interest in maintaining an open economy.

The challenge for the Court, whose dormant Commerce Clause rulings have attracted intense criticism ...


Amicus Brief In Maryland Comptroller V. Wynne, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason Sep 2014

Amicus Brief In Maryland Comptroller V. Wynne, Michael S. Knoll, Ruth Mason

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The internal consistency test reveals that Maryland applies systematically higher “county” taxes to interstate commerce than to in-state commerce.

Economic analysis of Maryland’s tax regime — including its taxes on inbound, outbound, and domestic activities — confirms what the internal consistency test suggests, namely, that the Maryland “county” tax discourages interstate commerce. Specifically, the Maryland tax regime discourages Maryland residents from earning income outside of Maryland, and it simultaneously discourages nonresidents from earning income in Maryland. Maryland alone causes this distortion; the distortion does not depend on the taxes imposed by any other state.

Petitioner’s argument that Maryland’s outbound ...