Satellite-television service can be taxed at a higher rate than cable TV, the Florida Supreme Court decided Thursday.
Satellite companies had challenged the state’s 16-year-old Communications Services Tax (CST), which now taxes cable service at 4.92 percent and satellite at 9.07 percent.
Those concerns, led by DirecTV, said that difference was unconstitutional and asked for a refund.
But the high court reversed the 1st District Court of Appeal’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.”
“There is no evidence from the text of the statute that it was enacted with a discriminatory purpose,” said Thursday’s opinion by Justice Peggy A. Quince and joined by the other justices. New Justice C. Alan Lawson didn’t participate in the decision.
“Consequently, the (satellite TV companies) are not entitled to a refund of the taxes paid,” it added.
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.”
A spokesman for AT&T, which now owns DirecTV, declined comment.
The case is Florida Department of Revenue, et al. vs. DirecTV Inc., et al., no. SC15-1249.