ILNews

Excise tax allowed on couple's marijuana

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Tax Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Indiana Department of State Revenue in a controlled-substance excise-tax case, ruling Monday that charging the tax does not apply to Indiana's joinder and successive prosecution statutes.

In John David Harrison and Jennifer A. Harrison v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, No.49T10-0409-TA-44, the Harrisons appealed the final determination of the Department of State Revenue, which assessed them with a controlled-substance excise tax (CSET) on the nearly 6,500 grams of marijuana police found in their home. Both John and Jennifer entered plea agreements with the state, in which the state agreed to dismiss criminal charges against them if they completed the agreement's terms. Jennifer was to submit to random drug testing, pay a fine, and not commit any criminal offenses for a year. John received a fine and probation.

Nine months later, after the department received written notice from the Fayette County prosecutor about the plea agreements, the department assessed the CSET against Harrisons for nearly $50,000; the department collected $1,501.75 from the Harrisons. In Sept. 2004, the Harrisons filed an original tax appeal and both sides filed for summary judgment.

The Harrisons argued that they couldn't be assessed the CSET because they were already charged criminally and applying the CSET would be double jeopardy. They also argued the Indiana joinder and successive prosecution statutes apply to CSET proceedings, and CSET assessment is barred because those proceedings were initiated subsequent to their criminal prosecutions.

Judge Thomas Fisher disagreed with the Harrisons' argument. Unless the Indiana General Assembly has defined something as a crime, then an individual's conduct cannot constitute a crime, and the General Assembly has not "exercised such authority with respect to the CSET," he wrote in the opinion.

The CSET is intended to be an addition to any criminal penalties under Indiana Code 35-48-4 and is primarily civil in nature. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the state.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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