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Tax court orders USUT refund

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The Indiana Department of State Revenue erred in concluding that a natural gas-fired power plant in Terre Haute was subject to the Utility Services Use Tax, ruled the Indiana Tax Court Wednesday.

The tax court released two opinions with the same cause number, Mirant Sugar Creek, LLC v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, No. 71T10-0803-TA-18, in which the court addressed three issues: the department’s motion to strike in its entirety the affidavit of Mirant Sugar Creek’s senior tax analyst and e-mails between her and the tax analyst with the State Revenue department; if Mirant obtained a ruling from the department in those e-mails providing the company wasn’t subject to the USUT; and whether Mirant’s purchases of natural gas in July 2006 were subject to the USUT.

Mirant purchases natural gas from an out-of-state vendor, which it uses to produce electricity that it sells to an out-of-state customer who resells the electricity to its customers.

In August 2006, the department and Mirant exchanged e-mails about whether the company was subject to the USUT. Mirant paid the tax in July 2006, but didn’t pay it any more because it believed it shouldn’t be subject to it. It filed a claim for a refund, which the department denied.

In a not-for-publication opinion, Tax Judge Thomas Fisher denied the department’s motion to strike the affidavit and e-mails. In the for publication opinion, Judge Fisher determined that the department didn’t rule that Mirant did not have to pay the USUT. The e-mails exchanged indicate that Mirant sought a generic opinion as to whether a generator’s natural gas purchases were subject to the tax. There is also no indication that the e-mails between the parties were published in the Indiana Register. When the department is to be bound by the ruling it issues, it must be published in the register.

Although Judge Fisher denied Mirant’s cross-motion for summary judgment on that issue, he ruled in favor of the company that its natural gas purchases in July 2006 weren’t subject to the USUT. The judge examined the part of the relevant statute that says the retail consumption of utility services in Indiana is exempt from the USUT if the “gross receipts from the transaction aren’t taxable under Indiana Code 6-2.3-3 and the utility services are consumed for the purposes for which the gross receipts were excluded from taxation.”

In 2006, the statute provided that gross receipts don’t include a wholesale sale to another generator or reseller of utility services; the statute was amended in 2008 to provide a sale of utility services is a wholesale sale if the utility services are natural gas and the buyer consumes the natural gas in the direct production of electricity to be sold by the buyer.

“The General Assembly’s 2008 amendment of the statute clarifies what transactions are to be considered wholesale sales with respect to the purchase of utility services for consumption,” he wrote. “It is for this reason, that the Court finds the General Assembly, through its 2008 amendment of the statute, simply clarified its original intent.”

Mirant was generating and selling electricity to others, and purchased natural gas in order to generate electricity to sell to another entity. As such, Mirant’s purchases of natural gas weren’t subject to the USUT pursuant to I.C. sections 6-2.3-3-5 and 6-2.3-5.5-4(2).

Judge Fisher ordered the department to refund the USUT taxes Mirant paid for July 2006.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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