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Mayo Foundation v. United States

Professor Kristin Hickman discusses why the Mayo Foundation case is so important. An issue in the case was whether judicial review could apply the Chevron Deference to the Treasury Department, or if Treasury was only subject to a much older alternative review process under National Muffler. In the decision for Mayo Foundation, the Justices unanimously decided that the Treasury was subject to the same standards as other administrative agencies, thus rejecting the notion of “tax exceptionalism.” https://youtube.com/watch?v=nrJ0LAbO-Jg


It's important to recognize that Mayo Foundation, as a case, is foundational of an entire body of jurisprudence. The Mayo Foundation case concerned a Treasury regulation that required payroll tax withholding for medical residents as employees rather than as students, with the Mayo Foundation objecting to the regulations requirement that they withhold payroll taxes on their medical residents. The Mayo Foundation challenged the regulation. An issue in the Mayo Foundation case that came up was whether the Treasury department was eligible for Chevron Deference for its regulation or whether an alternative standard review, known by the name of National Muffler, applied to judicial review in this case. An eight justice Supreme Court in the Mayo Foundation case with Justice Kagan abstaining unanimously decided that Treasury regulations promulgated pursuant to general authority carry the force and effect of law are eligible for Chevron Deference under United States versus Mead Corporation. And more importantly, that the National Muffler standard, which predated the Chevron Standard no longer applied to judicial review of Treasury regulations. In fact, the Supreme Court said in the Mayo Foundation case, in talking about National Muffler review, as compared to Chevron reviews said, we are not inclined to carve out an approach to judicial review good for tax law only. They've noted that the law had changed, administrative law had changed considerably since the National Muffler case had been decided. The Mayo Foundation case stands for a rejection of tax exceptionalism from general administrative law requirements, doctrines and norms altogether. Since the Supreme Court decided the Mayo Foundation case, other cases have been brought challenging Treasury and IRS actions on Administrative Procedure Act grounds. And many of those cases have been successful with the result that the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have had to make adjustments in how they go about administering the Internal Revenue Code.

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