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Court sides with racinos in tax dispute with state

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A federal bankruptcy court has sided with two Indiana racinos in a dispute over their tax burdens, a ruling that could reduce the total amount they pay into state coffers by as much as $30 million per year.

In his ruling Wednesday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware, Judge Brendan Linehan Shannon agreed with Indiana Live’s attorneys that the state is unfairly taxing the Shelbyville racetrack and casino on money it doesn’t get to keep. Hoosier Park, the state’s other racino in Anderson that recently emerged from bankruptcy, joined in the case in August and also will reap the benefit of the ruling.

Indiana Live, which is in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, appealed to the court in late July to consider whether the Indiana Department of Revenue is correctly interpreting state tax law.

The racinos have to set aside 15 percent of their revenue in horse-industry trust accounts that go toward purse money and care for older horses. Some of the money also goes toward tobacco cessation and, if it exceeds a state-mandated cap, a portion goes back to the state’s general fund. The racinos have been paying taxes on that portion of their revenue — a policy Indiana Live contends is unfair.

In a 27-page ruling, Shannon argued that Indiana Live is not subject to taxation on that 15 percent because the racino is a “mere conduit” and does not control the money.

“The debtor merely collects the funds and passes them along, and thus they are not included in the debtor’s income,” Shannon wrote. “Because the Graduated Tax is measured by the debtor’s income, the [15 percent] cannot be included in that tax.”

In its initial appeal to the court, Indiana Live attorneys projected that it could save it about $15 million annually in taxes, a figure that would be doubled if applied to both racinos.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and are gratified that the correct legal result was reached,” David Suess, a Bose, McKinney & Evans attorney representing Indiana Live, wrote in an email.

It’s not clear whether the state will appeal the decision. An Indiana Department of Revenue spokesman said staffers would review the ruling Thursday.
 

This story originally ran in the Oct. 27, 2011, IBJ Daily, a sister publication to Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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