Favorable Ruling: HMOs Not Taxable Under New York City General Corporation Tax

By on July 28, 2014

A New York City Tax Appeals Tribunal Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) recently ruled in favor of Aetna, Inc. (Aetna) on the question of whether a health maintenance organization (HMO) was “doing an insurance business” in New York State, thereby exempting it from the New York City General Corporation Tax (GCT).  In Matter of Aetna, Inc., the ALJ determined that the HMO at issue was “doing an insurance business” in New York because insurance risk was present in contracts covering the members of the HMO, the members of the HMO spread the risk of loss due to unforeseen medical expenses to the HMO and the HMO was subject to significant regulation under New York State Insurance Law and Public Health Law.  Aetna Health, Inc. (Health), a subsidiary of Aetna, qualified as an HMO under Article 44 of the New York State Public Health Law.  Though the New York City Department of Finance (Department) argued that HMOs were subject to the GCT because they do not conduct insurance business, the ALJ engaged in a thorough examination of federal and New York State authorities on HMOs and concluded that Health was doing an insurance business in New York.  Of particular note, the ALJ, relying on the United States Supreme Court decision in Rush Prudential HMO v. Moran, noted that HMOs could be (and were) “both insurer[s] and corporation[s] which arrange[] for the provision of medical services.”  The Department has 30 days from the determination date to file an appeal.

McDermott is pleased to have represented Aetna, Inc. in this favorable ruling.   If you have any questions regarding this determination and its past, present, and future impact on your company, please contact a member of the McDermott State and Local Tax group.  For more please see McDermott’s On the Subject regarding this case.

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