Alltel v. SCDORAnnotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the Alltel Entities (collectively Petitioners Alltel Communications, Inc. and its regional subsidiaries), were included in the definition of "telephone company" for the purpose of increased license fees in S.C. Code Ann. section 1220-100 (2000). Pursuant to cross motions for summary judgment, the Administrative Law Court (ALC) granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioners, finding that they were not telephone companies for purposes of section 12-20-100. Alternatively, the ALC found that if the statute were ambiguous, Petitioners would prevail under the rule that an ambiguity in a taxing statute must be construed in favor of the taxpayer. Though the court of appeals recognized that the application of section 12-20-100 to Petitioners was not "absolutely clear," it reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the matter to the ALC for additional fact finding. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the ALC's grant of summary judgment in favor of Petitioners. The term "telephone company" was not a defined term and its application to Petitioners was "doubtful." The presence of an ambiguity in a tax assessment statute requires that a court resolve that doubt in favor of the taxpayer.