Cheryl concentrates her practice in the area of state and local tax law, including corporate and personal income, net worth/franchise, sales/use, property, payroll, and realty transfer taxes issues. Cheryl has extensive experience before various state and local courts and administrative appeal boards on both audit defense and refund issues. She is also involved with state and local tax aspects of mergers and acquisitions, as well as corporate restructurings. She has worked extensively on issues involving Pennsylvania state and location taxation of charitable organizations.
Cheryl is an active member of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s State and Local Tax Committee (SALT). She currently serves as the chair of the SALT Committee and previously acted as the committee’s secretary. Cheryl also sits on the Association’s Tax Council. She has been an adjunct professor at Villanova University School of Law since 2004, teaching state and local taxation in the graduate tax program. She also teaches continuing legal education classes on various state and local taxation subjects.
Cheryl is a co-editor of the PA Tax Recap, a joint email service of Cozen O'Connor and the Pennsylvania Legislative Service (PLS) that delivers updates in Pennsylvania tax law to subscribers, including substantive analysis of judicial decisions, actions by the General Assembly and new regulations or other guidance from the Department of Revenue.
Cheryl was named a "2012 Lawyer on the Fast Track" by The Legal Intelligencer. Cheryl was selected as a Pennsylvania Rising Star Super Lawyer in the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 editions of Pennsylvania Super Lawyers published by Thomson Reuters.
Cheryl earned her undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Villanova University and her J.D. and Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) from Villanova University School of Law.
June 12, 2018
Super Lawyers has named 54 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.
September 01, 2012
Cozen O’Connor attorneys Kimya S.P. Johnson, and Cheryl Upham have been recognized by The Legal Intelligencer as “Lawyers on the Fast Track.” The group of 32 attorneys was selected from over 100 submissions by an objective judging panel of seven members of the legal community. Nominees were judged on four areas: development of the law, advocacy, community contribution and service to the bar.
July 06, 2012
Cozen O’Connor, PLS Introduce PA Tax Recap
May 21, 2009
'We are proud to welcome these highly qualified attorneys into membership in the firm,'' said Thomas A. Decker, president and chief executive officer of Cozen O’Connor. ''Their individual and combined contributions reflect the talent and strength of our firm.''
February 05, 2018
Cheryl A. Upham and Heidi R. Schwartz discuss new Personal Income Tax withholding obligations on certain lessees of non-residential real property and non-employer payors of Pennsylvania source compensation and business income.
July 23, 2015
The taxpayer filed a complaint in the nature of a request for declaratory judgment to void the tax sale. After a trial, the taxpayer filed a Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal, but had not previously filed post-trial motions.
July 23, 2015
The court agreed with the trial court that the taxpayer had not established that it donated or rendered gratuitously a substantial portion of its services. The evidence was that the taxpayer received charitable contributions that varied around one percent of its annual expenditures, but the contributions, at least in substantial part, were a return from its parent of fees charged for management services
July 02, 2015
The court held that the regulation was a reasonable interpretation of the statute and under its plain terms, an amended report did not constitute a petition for refund in because the amended report lacked information that must be included with a complete refund claim.
June 16, 2015
A panel of The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that attorney’s fees are collectable in a tax sale, notwithstanding that Act 2003-20, which authorized the collection of reasonable attorney’s fees, was retroactive to 1996.
June 16, 2015
A divided panel of The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that a reassessment of property upon the expiration of a KOZ abatement was an unlawful spot assessment. Duke Energy Fayette II, LLC v. Fayette County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 1406 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Apr. 14, 2015).
June 16, 2015
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that a trial court correctly held that a charitable exemption in Allegheny County begins only on the next assessment day, not when the property was acquired. Global Links v. Keystone Oaks School District, No. 1511 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. May 8, 2015).
May 29, 2015
In Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne, the Court concluded that the system did not grant a resident credit for Maryland county income tax paid on income earned and taxed in another state.
April 20, 2015
A divided Commonwealth Court held that a township’s business privilege tax on gross receipts enacted under the Local Tax Enabling Act could not be applied to lease payments in Fish v. Township of Lower Merion.
April 16, 2015
The substantial volume of tax sale decisions from appellate courts continues. The high volume of decisions suggests that it may be time for the General Assembly to review the tax sales statutes.
April 14, 2015
A tax appeal from an interim assessment was properly preserved, notwithstanding that the taxpayer did not appeal a subsequent assessment that reflected a tax abatement under LERTA.
March 24, 2015
The Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment (OPA) recently mailed notices to each owner of property listed as tax exempt on the OPA’s records indicating that the owner must file a form to certify that the property continues to be entitled to exemption.
March 04, 2015
A panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed a decision that an assessment board correctly increased the use value of properties enrolled under the Clean and Green program, notwithstanding that the increased use values exceeded the certified market values. Herzog v. McKean County Board of Assessment, No. 413 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 27, 2015). The court rejected the argument that the assessor did not have the power to increase the use value of the properties after they were enrolled in the program.
February 23, 2015
The Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment (OPA) has begun mailing notices to each owner of property listed as tax exempt on the OPA’s records indicating that the owner must file a form to certify that the property continues to be entitled to exemption. The notice and form are confusing as they list different due dates and effective dates for the certification. The OPA has confirmed that the due date for filing the form is March 31, 2015 and that the certification of exemption is for tax year 2016.
February 19, 2015
Continuing a line of recent appellate decisions, a panel of the Commonwealth Court set aside a tax sale because the tax claim bureau failed to note in the file additional efforts that it had made to notify the owner. In re: 2013 Perry County Tax Claim Bureau Sale, Appeal of Tufarolo.
February 10, 2015
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a tax sale of owner-occupied property was void because of the failure of the sheriff to include a copy of the notice of the tax sale with affidavits filed in the proceeding. Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau v. Queenan, No. 209 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 12, 2015). The owner had actual notice of the tax sale in advance of the sale. Notwithstanding, the Court held that the failure of the Sheriff to include a copy of the notice did not meet the mandatory requirement of the statute in 72 P.S. §601(a)(3). The tax sale of owner-occupied property requires stricter requirements than requirements of notice to property owners generally under 72 P.S. §5860.602.
January 26, 2015
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a taxpayer failed to prove that he was a nonresident of Pennsylvania in 2005. Lust v. Commonwealth, No. 645 F.R. 2011 (Pa Commw. Jan. 9, 2015) (unreported). The taxpayer filed Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey tax returns reflecting part year residency in Pennsylvania in 2005. Several years later, the taxpayer filed an amended Pennsylvania return claiming nonresidency for the entire year. The court stated that, when asked about the conflicting documentary evidence on cross examination, the taxpayer was evasive, repeatedly declined to identify documents that he had filed, would not confirm information contained therein, testified that he could not remember critical facts, and provided only the most basic information. The court found the taxpayer’s testimony not credible and held that he had failed to prove nonresidency in Pennsylvania.
January 26, 2015
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that taxpayers could not be reassessed when they subdivided a parcel into two parcels but retained title. Raup v. Dauphin County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 237 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 14, 2015). The taxpayers owned a property that they subdivided into two lots. One of the parcels had been improved with half of a duplex property long before the subdivision. The court held that the subdivision could not be the occasion for a reassessment when the improvements were not made contemporaneously, citing 53 Pa. C. S. § 8817(a). Any improvement to the property could justify a reassessment at the time the improvements are made but not at an arbitrary time in the future. A subdivision does not constitute an improvement; an improvement requires an addition to the property. The court further held that the subdivision by a deed for $1.00 did not constitute a sale taking the conveyance out of the protection of the subdivision.
December 18, 2014
A divided panel of the Commonwealth Court concluded that real estate used by a railroad as a transloading facility was not exempt from local real estate tax. CSX Transportation, Inc., v. Delaware County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 1276 C.D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Nov. 19, 2014). The appeal may not be correctly decided.
December 15, 2014
A panel of a Commonwealth Court concluded that a mixed-use housing project owned by municipality was exempt from real estate tax. Reading Housing Authority v. Board of Assessment Appeals of Berks County, No. 1937 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Commw. Nov. 12, 2014). The Reading Housing Authority owned and operated a mixed-use housing project known as a 20-80 project. Twenty percent of the units were set aside for low income persons. The balance were rented at commercial rates.
November 04, 2014
A divided panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a city was not prohibited from imposing its Business Privilege Tax on the gross receipts of a freight broker. S & H Transport, Inc. v. City of York, No. 165 C. D. 2014 (Pa. Commw. Oct. 15, 2014). The taxpayer contracted with its customer to provide common carrier transportation services. The taxpayer would then contract with a common carrier to transport the items, negotiating the lowest feasible price. The difference between what the taxpayer charged its customer and what the common carrier charged the taxpayer constituted the taxpayer's profit.
September 26, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that portions of a 45-acre tract were entitled to exemption as places of regularly stated religious worship. Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion v. Medford County Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes, No. 1963
C.D. 2013 (Pa. Commw. Sept. 16, 2014). The tract in question was used to conduct open air religious practices of a religious faith. The property was secluded, which served to protect the privacy of the participants. The trial court held that certain portions of the property were exempt but others were not.
September 02, 2014
The statute requires notice to be given to each owner of the property. The notice requirements of the statute are strictly construed. Rinier v. Tax Claim Bureau of Delaware County, 606 A.2d 635 (Pa Commw. 1992). There were four owners of the property. Notice was sent addressed only to one owner followed by et al. The court held that such notice was inadequate under the statute. Therefore the tax sale was invalidated.
September 02, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that the trial court properly denied a mortgage holder’s petition to set aside the judicial tax sale of a property in Lackawanna County due to alleged improper service of notice and other errors committed under the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (RETSL). HSBC Bank USA, N.A. v. Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau, No. 2027 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Commw. Aug. 1, 2014).
June 30, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that the Westmoreland Tax Claim Bureau had the discretion under the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (RETSL) to allow an owner of a tax delinquent property (Rowe) to redeem the property through the payment of all tax and costs after the property failed to sell at a tax sale and a judicial sale and had been placed in the bureau’s repository of unsold property. Consequently, the court dismissed a complaint for mandamus and declaratory judgment filed by an individual (Sanders) seeking to force the bureau to accept his bid for the property.
June 30, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a pro se taxpayer waived all issues on appeal because he failed to comply with the lower court’s order directing him to file a statement of matters complained of on appeal. City of Philadelphia v. Tax Review Board, Appeal of Samuel Cook, No. 1070 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Commw. May 21, 2014) (unreported). Issues not stated in a statement are waived. Commonwealth v. Castillo, 888 A.2d 775 (Pa. 2005). Since the taxpayer filed no statement, all issues were waived.
June 30, 2014
A panel of a Commonwealth Court held that a mortgagee is not an aggrieved party for purposes of standing to take an appeal of the assessment of real property. Mountain Manor Development Company LP v. Monroe County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 1187 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Comm. May 22, 2014) (unreported).
June 30, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that an owner of property was entitled to pursue a base year evaluation appeal, notwithstanding that the initial appeal was taken by a school district. Corey v. Washington County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 370 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Commw. May 13, 2014) (unreported).
June 30, 2014
A divided Commonwealth Court panel vacated an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County dismissing a property owner’s (Pascal) set aside petition to void the judicial sale of her property and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing.
May 08, 2014
A nearly unanimous Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court and held that certain promotional expenses were deductible in calculating gross terminal revenue for purposes of the 34 percent Pennsylvania tax on slot machines.
April 18, 2014
The Commonwealth Court affirmed on several grounds an assessment under the Liquid Fuels and Fuels Use Tax Act. Luther P. Miller, Inc. v. Commonwealth, No. 550 F.R. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Mar. 20, 2014). The taxpayer raised three issues. The court rejected the argument that sales to bus operators that provided services to a school district were exempt from taxation as sales to political subdivisions, as addressed in 61 Pa. C.S. § 315.3.
March 27, 2014
In a four to three decision, the en banc Commonwealth Court held that a senior citizen’s estate was entitled to a rebate under the Senior Citizens Property Tax and Rent Rebate Assistance Act, 53 P.S. §§ 6926.1301-6926.1313 (the Senior Rebate Act), so long as the decedent met any of the claimant eligibility criteria under Section 1303 even if the decedent did not live throughout the tax year for which the rebate was sought.
March 06, 2014
The New York Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court and held that in order for an individual to have a “permanent place of abode” in New York for purposes of determining whether the individual is a statutory tax resident, there must be some basis to conclude that the property owned by the individual was actually used as the individual’s residence. Matter of Gaied v. New York State Tax Appeals Tribunal, et al., Docket No. 26 (N.Y. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2014). While the decision is not binding in states other than New York, the analysis is pertinent in the myriad states, including Pennsylvania, that have a statutory definition of a resident for tax purposes that is the same or similar to that of New York.
February 20, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court concluded that a continuing care retirement community qualified as an institution of purely public charity and was therefore exempt from real estate tax, except for a remand regarding application of the exemption to two relatively minor parcels. Albright Care Services v. Union County Board of Assessment, No. 2094 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Commw. Jan. 29, 2014) (unreported). The questions were whether the institution qualified as a purely public charity under case law and under Act 1997-55.
February 12, 2014
A panel of the Commonwealth Court modified an order of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas that quashed certain real estate assessment appeals filed on a consolidated basis, but permitted the property owners to file amended appeals beyond the statutory appeal period provided they do so within 60 days of the order and pay the necessary filing fees.
February 12, 2014
A federal district court remanded to state court an action that made various contractual and consumer oriented claims regarding the collection of sales tax. Farneth v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2:3-cv-01062 (W.D.PA. Dec. 30, 2013). The plaintiff purchased two items of shaving gel at a Wal-Mart store taking advantage of a two-for-one promotional sale. The store charged Pennsylvania Sales Tax as though both items were purchased at full price.
January 09, 2014
A plurality of the full Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the disparity in valuations that results from the application of the statutory averaging formula for valuations and a combination provision are not unconstitutional. Lebanon Valley Farmers Bank v. Commonwealth, No. 78 MAP 2011 (Pa. Dec. 27, 2012) (3 to 2), reversing 27 A.3rd 288 (Pa Commw. 2011) . The decision may be incorrectly decided.
December 04, 2013
A divided panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed a decision below that taxpayers were entitled to credits for overpaid Philadelphia Business Privilege Tax, notwithstanding a three-year limit on the refund of taxes. City of Philadelphia v. City of Philadelphia Tax Review Board ex rel. Keystone Healthplan East, Inc., No. 97 C.D. 2013 (Pa Commw. Nov. 18, 2013).
December 04, 2013
A panel of the Commonwealth Court reversed and remanded for further findings several assessments determined by a trial court. In re appeal of Harley-Davidson Motor Company, No. 159 C.D. 2013 (Pa Commw. Oct. 30, 2013). The property was approximately 229 acres formerly used for the manufacture of munitions and certain other industrial activities. The property had significant continuing environmental problems. The Commonwealth Court reversed for several reasons.
November 26, 2013
A panel of the Commonwealth Court reversed and remanded assessments on a property regarding the impact of obsolescence on the buildings. In re Appeal of Council Rock School District, Appeal of LMC Properties, Inc., No. 354 C.D. 2013 (Pa Commw. Nov. 8, 2013) (unreported). The property consisted of 52 acres and an office, research and industrial center used for research and manufacturing. The court first rejected an argument that the trial court used a value-in-use methodology. The court held that the appraiser upon which the trial court relied did not take into account specialized equipment in the buildings.
November 05, 2013
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court and held that property owned by the Board of City Trusts acting as trustee under the will of Stephen H. Girard was immune from real estate taxation because the trust is a state agency. City of Philadelphia, Trustee v. Cumberland County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 902 MAP 2011
(Pa. Oct. 30, 2013). The court was unanimous in the result; two justices filed a concurring opinion.
October 31, 2013
A panel of the Commonwealth Court remanded a decision by the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for specific findings on certain aspects of a valuation for real estate tax purposes. 36 Township Line Storage, L.P. v. Montgomery County Board of Assessment Appeals, No. 1540 C.D. 2012 (Pa Commw. Oct. 18, 2013) (unreported). The court remanded, on the grounds of the now black-letter rule that a court may adopt some, a portion, or all of an expert’s report that it finds credible, but must explain which parts its relies upon so that a review in court can determine whether the conclusion is reasonably based on the record.
August 30, 2013
A panel of the Commonwealth Court sustained a decision that upheld the assessment of a township’s business privilege tax, interest and penalties. Whitehall Township Treasurer v. Allentown Power Center, L.P. No. 248 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Commw. Aug. 8, 2013). The taxpayer was assessed business privilege tax for 15 years beginning in 1995 on gross receipts from a rental commercial property.
July 18, 2013
The en banc Commonwealth Court held that private telephone line charges and directory assistance services were subject to the Public Utility Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), but non-recurring service charges were exempt. Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc. v. Commonwealth.
July 18, 2013
Two tax bills will make substantial changes to Pennsylvania taxes if finally enacted. The bills were part of the budget process. House Bill 465 has passed the House and Senate and requires the governor’s signature. Senate Bill 591 needs Senate concurrence in certain House amendments and the governor’s approval.
July 18, 2013
A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that a taxpayer had standing to challenge a LERTA designation, but the complaint nonetheless was dismissed because it alleged no facts in support of the claim that the property was incorrectly classified as deteriorated.
July 02, 2013
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed per curiam a decision that the burden of proving a change of domicile is on the person claiming the change. Hvizdak v. Commonwealth, 92 MAP 2012 (Pa. June 17, 2013) (per curiam), aff’g 50 A.3d 788, (Pa. Commw. 2012).
January 05, 2012
Sheetz Test Rejected for Sales and Use Tax - Tax Alert -
December 29, 2011
Pallets by Themselves Not Considered Containers - Tax Alert -
December 28, 2011
Tax Compromises Possible at Board of Appeals - Tax Alert -
December 15, 2011
Philadelphia Amends Business Privilege Tax Bases, Rates & Credits & Provides Relief to New Businesses - Tax Alert! - Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed bills number 110554 and 110548-A, both of which were signed by the mayor on November 14. Bill number 110554 amends the city’s Business Privilege Tax (BPT) to allow for an exclusion to all taxpayers for a flat amount of receipts from the gross receipts portion of the tax, a pro-rata exclusion from the net income portion of the tax to account for the excluded
August 02, 2011
STEB Sets 2010 Philadelphia Common Level Ratio at 18.1% - Tax Alert! - The Pennsylvania State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) recently released the 2010 Common Level Ratios (CLR) for counties across Pennsylvania. The 2010 CLR for Philadelphia is 18.1% — not quite half what it has been for the past twenty-five years. The large shift will have an important impact in two areas of Philadelphia taxation.
December 18, 2009
Pennsylvania Tax Changes - 2009/2010 Budget Bill - Tax Alert! - More than 100 days after the due date mandated by law, the Pennsylvania budget for fiscal year 2009/2010 budget was finally passed and signed into law by Governor Rendell.