Broz v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, No. 12-1403 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Broz started a cellular telephone business by organizing a wholly owned S corporation, RFB, in 1991 and purchasing an FCC license to operate a cellular network in Northern Michigan. Broz expanded by organizing additional entities. Alpine and limited liability companies that are taxed as partnerships, were formed to hold and lease FCC licenses. Alpine never operated on-air networks. For the years at issue, Broz deducted: flow-through losses of Alpine on his personal income taxes, on the grounds that he had debt basis in, and was “at risk” with respect to, Alpine; interest, depreciation, startup costs, and other business expenses of the Alpine entities; and the amortization cost of the FCC licenses held by the Alpine entities. The IRS Commissioner determined a deficiency of $18 million in Broz’s income tax filings for the tax years at issue, finding that Broz had insufficient debt basis in Alpine o claim flow-through losses, that Broz was not at risk with respect to investments in the Alpine entities, that the Alpine entities were not entitled to interest, depreciation, startup expense, and other business-related deductions because they were not engaged in an active trade or business. The Tax Court and the Sixth Circuit affirmed.