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. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.