Tax Court lacks jurisdiction to hear casino’s claim

March 17, 2015

The Indiana Tax Court on Monday dismissed a northern Indiana casino’s appeal of the LaPorte County treasurer’s failure to refund paid innkeeper’s tax, finding the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

Blue Chip Casino LLC paid more than $300,000 in the tax to LaPorte County between January 2007 and August 2009. But it later determined it remitted the innkeeper’s tax in error and sought a refund from the LaPorte County treasurer. It sent two letters to the county on the refund, but the treasurer never acted on those claims. In April 2010, Blue Chip appealed to the tax court.

In Blue Chip Casino, LLC v. LaPorte County Treasurer, and LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 49T10-1008-TA-37, Blue Chip claimed that the Tax Court has jurisdiction based on Ordinance No. 92-1, adopted in 1992 by the LaPorte County Council, which placed the treasurer in the shoes of the Department of State Revenue for purposes of collecting the county innkeeper’s tax. It surmises that since the county can collect the tax, it can also refund it.

But neither the ordinance nor statute expressly authorize a process for refunding taxes that may have been erroneously overpaid, Judge Martha Wentworth wrote.  I.C. 6-9-6-6(b) and 6-9-29-3 provide no indication that the Legislature intended to confer upon the treasurer the responsibility for determining LaPorte County innkeeper’s tax refund claims either independently or as the proxy of the ISDR.

To have invoked jurisdiction of the Tax Court, Wentworth wrote that Blue Chip should have appealed from a final determination from the ISDR. She dismissed the appeal and ruled all pending motions are deemed moot.



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