Tax Law

Minnesota Supreme Court Upholds Commissioner’s Use of Alternative Apportionment for Financial Institution

The Minnesota Supreme Court held that the state’s standard apportionment method did not fairly reflect the taxpayer’s net income allocable to the state, reversing the Tax Court’s ruling. The taxpayer, a national financial institution, transferred its loan portfolios to two newly formed partnerships. For apportionment purposes, Minnesota requires financial institutions to include loan interest in their sales factor numerators, but does not require other entities to do so. Unlike the taxpayer, the partnerships were not financial institutions. The partnerships thus excluded loan interest and reported their receipts factors as zero. The taxpayer’s distributive share of the partnerships’ apportioned income, in turn, contributed no receipts to its own receipts factor.

The Commissioner argued that the partnerships’ application of the statutory apportionment method failed to account for the taxpayer’s Minnesota business activities and thus, distorted the taxpayer’s state income by excluding interest income paid by Minnesota borrowers. The Commissioner proposed an alternative apportionment method requiring the partnerships to follow the rules for financial institutions and include interest income in their receipts factors. The court agreed with the Commissioner, concluding that the statutory apportionment formula failed to recognize any of the taxpayer’s income from its Minnesota business activities. The court noted that the taxpayer’s transfer of  its loan portfolios to the partnerships did not change the management of the loans, and Minnesota borrowers continued to make their loan payments directly to the taxpayer as a collection agent for the partnerships. The statutory method therefore distorted the taxpayer’s in-state income. No. A7-0923.