ILNews

Trial court lacks jurisdiction in tax suit

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The Indiana Tax Court is the proper venue for a suit filed by the state to recover an erroneous tax refund, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed today.

The Indiana Attorney General, on behalf of the state, filed a suit in Jackson Superior Court to recover a tax refund granted by the Indiana Department of Revenue to Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing. The state believed the refund was erroneously granted due to a miscalculation of the refund owed to Aisin. Aisin had overpaid one year by more than $150,000; the DOR calculated that Aisin had overpaid by $1.07 million.

After discovering the error, the DOR sent a proposed assessment of how much Aisin actually owed due to the wrong credit amount. Aisin protested, but the DOR never held the requested hearing or issued a letter of findings. It instead cancelled the proposed assessment, but then a year it later tried to again recover the money. The state then filed the complaint in state court.

The trial court granted Aisin's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the Tax Court has exclusive jurisdiction. On appeal in State of Indiana v. Aisin USA Mfg., Inc., No. 36A01-0909-CV-442, the state argued that it wasn't trying to collect a tax but just recover the money mistakenly refunded to Aisin.

But the mistake in which the state based its claim is a mistake in the calculation of a tax refund, wrote Judge Paul Mathias. The underlying core of the state's claims is an income tax issue that comes under the tax statutes.

The state also argued the Tax Court couldn't have jurisdiction because the DOR never entered a letter of findings. But the DOR was statutorily obligated to do so.

"We do not think that the DOR may unilaterally cancel a proposed tax assessment, fail to hold a hearing, and fail to issue a letter of findings in an attempt to deprive the Tax Court of jurisdiction, only to then attempt to litigate the issue in a trial court of general jurisdiction," wrote the judge.

The Tax Court has exclusive jurisdiction once the letter is issued. To hold otherwise would allow the DOR to avoid jurisdiction of the Tax Court by refusing to issue a letter of findings.

The state claimed that if it's not allowed to proceed in the trial court, it will be without recourse because the statute of limitations has expired.

"As Americans, and as Hoosiers, we take great pride in being a society of laws rather than of men," wrote Judge Mathias, noting that the Tax Court has held a taxpayer can't seek a refund for a tax period outside the statute of limitations. "We believe the same reasoning applies to the State when it seeks to recover an allegedly improper tax refund outside the relevant limitations period. To have any real meaning, statutes need to apply equally to the State as well as to its citizens."

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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