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In reversal, tax court says estate not entitled to interest on refund, judgment

September 7, 2012

The estate of a Lowell chef and food production expert is not entitled to interest on a refund or judgment interest that the Lake County probate court awarded, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Friday.

After John A. Schoenenberger died in November 2003, his estate made an estimated inheritance tax payment of $1.8 million to the Lake County Treasurer, preserving a right to a 5 percent discount for an early estimated payment.

In 2008, the probate court determined the tax liability and subsequently Lake County sent a refund of $742,128. The estate then asked for interest on the funds the county had held for years, but the county declined, citing Indiana Code 6-4.1-10-1 as amended in 2007. The estate said that because the 1980 language was in effect at the time the payment was made, that law should have governed.

When the matter went to probate court, the estate was granted summary judgment and $199,347 in interest plus judgment interest.

“The estate … did file a valid refund claim on April 14, 2008, six days after the probate court determined its inheritance tax liability and more than nine months after the 2007 version took effect. Thus, the 2007 version of Indiana Code § 6-4.1-10-1 governed any right the estate had to interest on its refund claim,” Tax Court Judge Martha Wentworth wrote in Indiana Dept. of State Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division v. The Supervised Estate of John A. Schoenenberger, Deceased, 49T10-1010-TA-54.

“That version of the statute provided that the estate would receive interest on its refund claim if the Department failed to pay the refund claim within ninety days of its receipt. See I.C. § 6-4.1-10-1(b)-(c) (2007). The Department paid the claim well within that period, just twenty-nine days after receiving the claim; therefore, the probate court erred in granting the Estate interest on its refund claim and judgment interest thereon.”

The matter was remanded to the court for further proceedings.

 

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