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Judge rules in favor of Caterpillar in tax deduction dispute

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Indiana Tax Judge Martha Wentworth granted summary judgment to Caterpillar Inc. Thursday, finding the company’s foreign source dividends are deductible in calculating its state net operating losses available for carryover as a deduction from taxable income in future years.

In Caterpillar, Inc. v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, 49T10-0812-TA-70, for tax years 2000 through 2003, when Caterpillar calculated its Indiana adjusted gross income tax liability for those years, it started with its federal taxable income, which did not include its U.S. source dividends under I.R.C. § 243(a). Caterpillar’s federal taxable income did include, however, its foreign source dividends. As a result, Caterpillar took the foreign source dividend deduction under I.C. 6-3-2-12 and reported Indiana net operating losses on a separate company basis in each of those years, referred to in the opinion as the loss years.

The company also amended its returns for 1996 through 1999 to carryback the unused Indiana NOLs reported on its 2000 through 2002 loss year returns. Caterpillar sought a refund for overpaid taxes.

Both sides filed for summary judgment. The Department of Revenue claimed that Caterpillar was not entitled to deduct its FSDs in calculating its Indiana NOLs because the NOL statute neither expressly incorporates the FSD statute nor specifically references deducting FSDs as a modification in I.C. 6-3-1-3.5. Caterpillar contended that the method of calculating Indiana NOLs necessarily triggered the statutory deduction of FSDs because its FSD income was included in its adjusted gross income in calculating its Indiana NOL for 2000 through 2003.

Wentworth determined that “adjusted gross income” is a component of the Indiana NOL Statute and that Caterpillar’s FSD income is included in that adjusted gross income.

“The plain language of the Indiana NOL Statute itself requires the federal NOL to be modified under Indiana Code § 6-3-1-3.5; thus, the resulting calculations contain ‘adjusted gross income.’ Consequently, even though the term ‘adjusted gross income’ is not used in the Indiana NOL Statute, the components of the NOL calculation establish its presence,” she wrote.

“Federal taxable income is gross income minus the deductions allowed by the Internal Revenue Code. Caterpillar’s gross income (‘all income from whatever source derived’) included its FSD income. The facts further reveal that in calculating its federal taxable income for the Loss Years, Caterpillar did not deduct its FSDs from its gross income under I.R.C. § 245,” she continued. “Finally, the statutory adjustments delineated in Indiana Code § 6-3-1-3.5 did not require the subtraction of FSD income. As a result, Caterpillar’s FSDs were included in its federal taxable income, in its federal NOL, and in its adjusted gross income within the Indiana NOL Statute. Caterpillar was therefore entitled to deduct its FSD income under Indiana Code § 6-3-2-12 in calculating its Indiana NOLs.”

 

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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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