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Tax Court rules in brewery's favor

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Ruling on an issue that previously has come before the Indiana Tax Court, Senior Judge Thomas Fisher has upheld that sales to Indiana customers who hired common carriers to pick up alcohol at an Ohio facility shouldn’t have been included in the sales factor of Miller Brewing Co.’s adjusted gross income tax and supplemental net income tax.

Miller appealed the Indiana Department of State Revenue’s denial of its claims for a refund of Indiana adjusted gross income tax and supplemental net income tax paid for the 1997-1999 tax years. In 2005, the Tax Court ordered the department to refund the AGIT paid by Miller for the 1994-1996 tax years.

At issue is whether for purposes of calculating its AGIT liability, Miller’s sales to Indiana customers are allocated to Indiana if those customers hired common carriers (carrier-pickup sales) to get their merchandise at Miller’s Ohio facility.

Miller didn’t allocate the income it got from the carrier-pickup sales to Indiana when calculating its AGIT liabilities. It paid the proposed assessments after the state revenue department audited its returns and decided Miller should have paid tax on that sales income. Miller filed for a refund, which the department denied.

In Miller Brewing Company v. Indiana Dept. of State Revenue, No. 49T10-0607-TA-69, Judge Fisher looked to Indiana Code 6-3-2-2(e)(1), which says “[s]ales of tangible personal property are in this state if[ ] the property is delivered or shipped to a purchaser, other than the United States government, within this state, regardless of the f.o.b. point or other conditions of the sale[.]” The department argued that the plain language of the statute mandates the application of the “destination rule,” which says that the income from sales should be apportioned to the purchaser’s state regardless of where the sale actually happens.

Miller, on the other hand, said the statute could be construed in two different ways, and argued that the department’s own regulation interpreting how the Legislature intended the statute to apply – 45 I.A.C. 3.1-1-53(7) – should control. It says “[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.”

Judge Fisher found the department’s interpretation of I.C. 6-3-2-2(e)(1) to be more persuasive than Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Act, Indiana’s membership in the Multistate Tax Commission in 2007 after a 30-year absence, or how other states construe their statutory language, arguments the revenue department had advanced.

“In determining its Indiana AGIT liability for the years at issue, Miller did nothing more than follow Indiana law: pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-3-2-2(e)(1) and 45 I.A.C. 3.1-1-53(7), its carrier-pickup sales were not Indiana sales and therefore not allocable to Indiana,” he wrote, granting summary judgment for Miller and against the revenue department.

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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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