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June 30, 2022

Update – Court of Appeals Ruling in T-Mobile High-Tech Exemption Case

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This week, the Georgia Court of Appeals set aside the decision of the Fulton Superior Court in the T-Mobile high-tech sales tax exemption case. The Metro Atlanta Chamber previously filed an amicus brief urging the Court of Appeals to reverse the superior court’s decision that equipment purchased by T-Mobile South for its broadband 4G LTE network did not qualify for Georgia’s high-tech exemption, OCGA § 48-8-3(68). (To qualify for the high-tech exemption, a company must spend at least $15 million on “computer equipment” in a calendar year.)

The superior court had ruled that the equipment purchased by T-Mobile South was “telephone central office equipment or other voice data transport technology” capable of permitting voice calls rather than “computer equipment” and therefore was ineligible for the high-tech exemption. In reaching this conclusion, the superior court reversed a prior decision from the Georgia Tax Tribunal, which had found that T-Mobile’s LTE network was built from computer equipment and that T-Mobile should receive a $11.4 million tax refund for 2012 through 2016.

In its June 28th ruling, the Court of Appeals did not definitively settle the question as to how the high-tech exemption statute should be interpreted; instead, it sent the case back to the superior court for reconsideration under the proper standard of judicial review. The Court specifically thanked Metro Atlanta Chamber and other amici for their helpful briefs.

Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell and Lee Deneen of Alston & Bird LLP represented the Metro Atlanta Chamber in its amicus brief.

We will monitor further proceedings in this case.

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