Chevron lives.

Even by the standards of tax cases, BNSF Railway Co. v. United States is arcane, but the underlying statutory analysis is of broad general interest.  No. 13-10014 (March 13, 2014). The first issue — the taxability of certain stock options — turned on whether a Treasury regulation about the meaning of the term “compensation” was entitled to Chevron deference.  The Fifth Circuit held that it was — as to the first Chevron factor, the Court found the term ambiguous, noting (1) the lack of a similar statute using the term, (2) variation among dictionary definitions, and (3) ambiguity in business usage, such as there was, at the time the relevant statute was passed in the 1920s-40s.  [Unintentional capitalist wit appears in footnote 63, which refers to the “Rand House Dictionary” rather than the “Random House Dictionary” in a citation about “capital or finance.”]  The Court then found the regulation reasonable, noting its general consistency with the goals and structure of the statute and its legislative history.  A second holding illustrates the application of the “specific-general canon” and “the rule against superfluities.”

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