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Judge: not all farm expenses are tax deductible

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A probate court incorrectly allowed an estate to deduct three farm-related expenses from its inheritance tax return, but affirmed the deduction of the remaining nine in question, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Tuesday.

Curtis Daugherty inherited his uncle’s farm following the uncle’s death. He was also the personal representative of the uncle’s estate. The farm was in disrepair and he made many repairs and improvements to it. In filing the inheritance tax return, the estate claimed numerous deductions, including farming-related expenses. The probate court accepted the return as filed.

The Indiana Department of State Revenue asked the probate court for a rehearing on the filing because it believed some of the farm-related deductions were improper. The estate filed a counterclaim to deduct 10 more farm-related expenses and alleged that the regulation the department relied on to preclude the deductions was invalid. The probate court upheld its earlier ruling and also found the estate’s counterclaim was untimely.

In Indiana Dept. of Revenue v. Estate of Bernard A. Daugherty, No. 49T10-0909-TA-49, Tax Judge Thomas Fisher affirmed the denial of the estate’s motion to dismiss the department’s claim. The department alleged the farming-related deductions were improper pursuant to 45 IAC 4.1-3-11. The estate claimed that regulation is invalid. The probate court, in applying the same rules of construction that apply to statutes, held the regulation was presumed to be valid until the estate demonstrated otherwise. Since the estate argued the burden of proof was on the department to prove the statute wasn’t invalid, the estate didn’t show the statute was invalid.

Judge Fisher also affirmed that the probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the estate’s counterclaim to add 10 more farming-related deductions. He rejected the estate’s argument that because its compulsory counterclaim was timely filed, Indiana Trial Rule 13 extended the 120-day statute of limitations for filing its own petition for rehearing. Because the estate sought affirmative relief with a counterclaim filed 128 days after the probate court’s initial determination, there was no error in finding the counterclaim was time-barred.

The probate court incorrectly allowed all 12 farming-related deductions. The deductions for clay drainage tiles, electrical repairs, grain bin repairs, and pole barn repairs were proper, as those expenditures were incurred during the course of administering the estate and were done to preserve, maintain, and repair the assets of the farm. The expenses related to the fertilizer bill, a pre-existing debt, were also deductible.

However, Curtis’ three expenditures for wheat spray weren’t deductible because he incurred those expenses while operating the farming business, wrote the judge. He remanded for the calculation of the proper amount of inheritance tax and interest due from the estate.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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