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Tax judge denies state's motion to dismiss

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The Indiana Tax Court has denied the state’s motion to dismiss a mother and daughter’s challenge to the jeopardy tax assessments made against them after the state found they didn’t pay taxes on their sales of puppies.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the Department of State Revenue investigated Virginia and Kristin Garwood’s business activities involving selling puppies and found that they weren’t remitting sales and income tax due on the sales. The department served the Garwoods with 16 jeopardy tax assessments demanding immediate payment. They didn’t pay and the dogs were seized and sold.

The department filed a verified petition for proceedings supplemental in Harrison Circuit Court; the Garwoods timely protested their assessments to the department shortly thereafter. The department wrote a letter to the Garwoods telling them that the relief they want was best available in Harrison Circuit Court. The Garwoods then asked the Tax Court for a judicial review of the final determination by the department and to enjoin the collection of the pending tax.

The department filed a motion to dismiss under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B), arguing lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, failure to state a claim upon relief can be granted, and that the same action was pending in another court.

In Virginia Garwood, et al. v. Indiana Dept. of State Revenue No. 82T10-0906-TA-29, the Tax Court denied all of the department’s 12(B) motions, finding its arguments that Indiana Dept. of Revenue v. Deaton (Deaton II), 755 N.E.2d 568 (Ind. 2001) controls and that there is no appealable final determination in this case to be misplaced. Deaton II is distinguishable from the instant case and it simply suggests that the jeopardy tax warrants at issue in this case have not attained the status of “judgments,” wrote Judge Thomas Fisher.

Also, the judge rejected the departments’ argument that the Garwoods’ failure to file a claim for a refund with the department precludes their challenge before the Tax Court. The department claimed that a taxpayer must first pay the taxes assessed, request a refund, and then if they don’t like the outcome, seek judicial review.

Indiana Code Section 6-8.1-5-3 is silent as to the manner by which a taxpayer may challenge the validity of a jeopardy assessment, but the Indiana Supreme Court has held that taxpayers may challenge jeopardy assessments through the administrative procedures provided under I.C. Section 6-8.1-5-1, he wrote. In addition, the department’s own regulation allows taxpayers to protest a jeopardy assessment within 20 days after the assessment is made.

“Consequently, through its argument, the Department attempts to eliminate one administrative path to the Tax Court when there are actually at least two,” wrote the judge. “This Court, however, will not sanction such actions.”

The department assessed the Garwoods with liability for income and sales taxes under I.C. Section 6-8.1-1-1. They timely protested those assessments in conformity with Indiana Code and the department sent a letter, without holding a hearing, telling the Garwoods the relief they seek was in the Harrison Circuit Court.

“Therefore, for purposes of this case, the Department’s letter constituted a final determination. The Garwoods’ action is an original tax appeal; therefore, the Court denies the Department’s 12(B)(1) motion to dismiss,” he wrote.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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