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Justices reverse Tax Court, determine Miller Brewing owes

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Miller Brewing owes $806,366 in income tax on beer transported by common carriers to Indiana from its Milwaukee brewery, the Indiana Supreme Court determined in a ruling Thursday that reversed the state Tax Court, ending a decade-long dispute.

In a 4-1 ruling written by Justice Mark Massa, the court held that the Tax Court clearly erred in determining that an example of how taxes are to be assessed had the force of law.

“The Tax Court determined that Example 7 was an administrative rule with the force of law and that it operated to exempt Miller from liability for Indiana tax on income from sales of goods delivered by common carrier to Indiana customers. We find that this determination was clearly erroneous and hold that Example 7 does not have the force of law,” Massa wrote.

Miller in its appeal said that an administrative rule contained an example that said “[s]ales are not ‘in this state’ if the purchaser picks up the goods at an out-of-state location and brings them back into Indiana in his own conveyance.”

“Miller contends that the term ‘in his own conveyance’ includes not only vehicles owned by the purchaser himself, but also vehicles owned by common carriers hired by either the purchaser or the seller to transport the goods to Indiana. … That interpretation is plainly inconsistent with the language of the example; the ordinary reader would understand ‘his own conveyance’ to mean a conveyance owned by the purchaser, not a conveyance owned by anyone else, such as a third-party common carrier,” Massa wrote.

Justice Robert Rucker dissented, agreeing with the Tax Court that Indiana Code 6-3-2-2(e)(1) is ambiguous.

“I am not convinced an error was made here. Applying our cautious deference standard of review I would affirm the judgment of the Tax Court,” Rucker wrote.
 

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  • Indiana Courts rule law isn't binding.
    Seems to me these judges had to think and think of a way to make this issue not be settled in favor of the taxpayer. So lets see, the legislature enacts a law and provides examples of when the law is applicable. But, according to the Supreme Court, the law is vald but te examples aren't binding??? How is the "ordinary" man supposed to figure our what in the law is valid and what is not. Oh but wait, the the area leans in the taxpayer's favor, we'll just make it non-binding. Indiana has a seasoned tax court....Shame on the Supreme Court for just ruling so the State doesn't loose money.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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