Mandate Issued: 10/03/2017
FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA
HONORABLE PATRICIA G. PARRISH, TRIAL JUDGE
William K. Elias, ELIAS BOOKS BROWN & NELSON, Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma, and Cherie R. Kiser, pro hac vice,
CAHILL GORDON & REINDEL, LLP, Washington, DC, and Thorn
Rosenthal, pro hac vice, CAHILL GORDON &
REINDEL, LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiff/Appellee
Hampton, Amy J. Pierce, CORBYN HAMPTON, PLLC, Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma, and Lee Pugh, GENERAL COUNSEL, OKLAHOMA TAX
COMMISSION, Taylor P. Henderson, ASSISTANT GENERAL COUNSEL,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendants/Appellants
L. GOODMAN, JUDGE
Plaintiff Cable One (Cable One) and Defendants Oklahoma State
Board of Equalization (OSBE) and Oklahoma Tax Commission
(OTC) (collectively OSBE/OTC) appeal the trial court's
March 15, 2015, judgment. Cable One asserts the trial court
erred in finding Cable One was a "transmission
company" and OSBE/OTC assert the trial court erred in
finding Cable One was not subject to ad valorem taxation
despite being a cable television company offering phone
The appeal was assigned to the accelerated docket pursuant to
Oklahoma Supreme Court Rule 1.36(a)(1), 12 O.S.2011, Supp.
2013, Ch. 15, App. 1 and In Re Amendments to Oklahoma
Supreme Court Rules, 2013 OK 67.
Based on our review of the facts and applicable law, we
reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand for further
According to its December 20, 2013, petition,  Cable One
alleged it is a Delaware corporation authorized to do
business in Oklahoma as a cable television company offering
cable television, cable modem (internet access) and
interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services
to Oklahoma subscribers within a defined geographic area. It
claims it has traditionally been locally valued and assessed
ad valorem taxes by the assessor in the counties in which it
owns property. However, for tax year 2013, OSBE/OTC
reclassified Cable One as a public service or public
transmission company to be centrally valued and assessed ad
valorem taxes, which OTC collects. Cable One contends this
was error. It seeks a refund of excess ad valorem taxes paid
pursuant to the central assessment, and injunctive relief
enjoining OSBE/OTC from centrally assessing ad valorem taxes
for tax year 2013 and future tax years.
Ad Valorem Provisions
Oklahoma's Ad Valorem Tax Code, 68 O.S.2011 and Supp.
2015 §§ 2801 through 2899, requires the
"property of all... public service corporations shall be
assessed annually by the State Board of
Equalization...." § 2847(A). A public service
corporation is defined as follows:
A. As used in the Ad Valorem Tax Code:
1. "Public service corporation" means all...
transmission companies, ...;
3. "Transmission company" means any company,
corporation, ... owning, leasing or operating for hire any...
B. As used in the Ad Valorem Tax Code, "transmission
company" and "public service corporation"
shall not be construed to include cable television companies.
§ 2808(A), (B).
Central vs. Local ...