An appellate court on Wednesday ordered satellite-television companies to pay legal and other costs in a long-standing tax case they lost earlier this year.
The case was remanded to the 1st District Court of Appeal, which now has ordered the companies to pony up costs to the Florida Department of Revenue, the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association and others.
The satellite-TV companies had challenged the state’s Communications Services Tax (CST), which taxes cable service at 4.92 percent and satellite at 9.07 percent. (Additional local and other taxes get tacked on; click here for an explanation.)
They said that difference was unconstitutional and asked for a refund. The high court reversed a 1st District panel’s 2-1 decision, which said that taxing the two services differently is unconstitutional.
Then-1st DCA Judge Simone Marstiller, in her dissent, had said there is no discriminatory purpose in the CST because satellite and cable providers are not “similarly situated entities.”
But the Supreme Court’s opinion, by Justice Peggy A. Quince and joined by the other justices, said there was “no evidence from the text of the statute that it was enacted with a discriminatory purpose.”
During oral argument last year, Justice Barbara Pariente had noted that “in the end, we’re really talking about the customer that either gets screwed or helped … It all gets passed on.”