Kaestner and Fielding: SCOTUS Implications Create Opportunities

Kaestner wins, Fielding Denied: What we can learn when analyzed together. 

On June 21, 2019, in North Carolina v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, Docket No. 18–457, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that the residency of a beneficiary in a U.S. state alone was not sufficient nexus (connection) for a state to tax the undistributed net income of a trust. 

Many commentators have written about the case and its implications. However,  SCOTUS declining the writ of certiorari to Minnesota’s Fielding case right after deciding on Kaestner should not be overlooked.

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SCOTUS Highlights and Insights From the Kaestner Oral Arguments

The United States Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments for North Carolina v. Kaestner

On April 17, 2019, the United States Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in perhaps the most significant trust case in 100 years: North Carolina Department Of Revenue, Petitioner, V. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, Respondent. 

The crux of the Kaestner case is whether the state of North Carolina should be able to constitutionally tax trusts where the only connection to the state is that the beneficiary is a resident.

In the state of North Carolina, the taxpayer won throughout the entire court system, but North Carolina appealed successfully to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Matthew W. Sawchak, North Carolina Solicitor General, argued on behalf of the Petitioner and David A. O’Neil, Esq., of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP  on behalf of the Respondent.

In the hour-long arguments, the Justices actively participated, frequently interrupting the counsels. Overall, based on our initial analysis of the transcript, the line of questioning from the majority of the Justices seemed to be slightly more sympathetic to the Respondent. However, there were several times the Justices were challenging the Respondent’s arguments.

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