The interviews continue

September 27, 2010
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From IL reporter Michael Hoskins:

Andrew Swain
He said the Tax Court would take his career to the next level, and he’d be able to continue ensuring fair application of tax laws for the state and people as he now does for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. Talking about his experience in Colorado, Swain said that Indiana is different because of the Tax Court - Colorado doesn’t have one - and that means this state has a clearer, non-repetitious system where you aren’t wasting time and re-litigating the same issues because of a lack of common tax concepts. He described the Miller Brewing case as an example of how the Indiana Tax Court got it right about income tax sourcing, and he also discussed his role in coming up with a novel concept for how the state could go after delinquent taxpayers on issues such as stereo equipment dealers and puppy mills. However, he said the state shouldn’t use taxes to address social issues. Commissioners also pressed him about mediations for Tax Court, and Swain said he’s in favor of that generally but that he doesn’t see ADR Rule 2.7(b)2 about lawyers having to be present at mediation applying to the Tax Court because the AG and governor must first sign off on any settlements.

Hon. Bruce Kolb
The Tax Court has had significant impact in the past, but he sees that impact growing as more tax disputes arise and as corporations and lawmakers study different tax areas that present issues of first impression. That should be examined, he said. Bruce Kolb also said the state’s inheritance tax areas do not have much caselaw. He talked about how his entire legal career has involved him working for the state, and his current role as Administrative Law Judge for both the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Department of Revenue. He said he hears commercial driver’s license cases, and 99 percent of those are pro se, so he makes those litigants feel at ease, explaining process and trying to answer any questions. He wants to look at and foster more on the area of pro se, and he also wondered why only one case from 2007 has been the only one in three years referred for mediation. One has to be careful not to create law and go beyond the statutes, as he said may have happened in the past. Studying his workload, Kolb said that in 28 instances he’s signed off on letters of findings in which he might have a conflict and he’d have to discuss those potential issues with the parties.

Marilyn Meighen
Marilyn Meighen has been helping to shape tax laws for most of her legal career and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to continue that path at a whole other level. She highlighted her experience second-chairing the case that “changed the world” in tax law - Town of St. John. Now being down in the trenches after leaving the Attorney General’s Office, Meighen said she has more flexibility in litigating and handling cases. Her work defending assessments might be perceived as a conflict, but she said her credibility is always on the line and she does a fair assessment of every case to make sure what’s being done is right. She thinks the Tax Court’s small-claims division needs to be examined more so that someone challenging their assessments shouldn’t have to hire an attorney. She noted that she respects Judge Fisher and the court, but has different perspectives on issues such as exemptions for property-tax cases being narrowly construed.



 

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