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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court posts one today

As noted in this ILB entry from Jan. 19, 2011, Judge Martha Wentworth is already hard at work, although her formal robing ceremony won't be until March 8, 2011. Today she has posted her first opinion. Apparently following the tradition of her predecessor, Judge Fisher, Judge Wentworth's opinion was posted on the day after it was issued.

In Indiana Dept. of State Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division v. In the Matter of the Estate of Deloras J. Biddle, a 6-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:

The Indiana Department of State Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division (Department) appeals the Knox Circuit Court’s (probate court) order determining that the Estate of Deloras J. Biddle (Estate) did not owe Indiana inheritance tax and was therefore not required to file an Indiana inheritance tax return. The issue before this Court is whether the probate court erred in making that determination. * * *

On appeal, the Department argues that the probate court erred when it determined that the Estate was not required to file an inheritance tax return because the checks issued by MetLife to Fine were life insurance proceeds and not annuity contract payments. The Court agrees.

On its face, the evidence in this case does not support the probate court’s conclusion that the payments received by Fine from MetLife were life insurance proceeds. Indeed, the checks clearly state that they were “proceeds from [an] annuity contract[.]” Because the probate court has provided no reasoning, nor has it cited to any other evidence, which would support its conclusion that the MetLife payments to Fine were life insurance proceeds, its judgment is REVERSED.

CONCLUSION. The probate court erred when it determined that the Estate was not required to file an inheritance tax return because the Metlife payments were life insurance proceeds and therefore not subject to Indiana’s inheritance tax. Accordingly, the matter is REMANDED to the probate court with instructions to order the Estate to provide a copy of the subject MetLife contract(s) so that it may be determined whether the Estate was indeed required to file an Indiana inheritance tax return and remit inheritance tax on the transfers to Fine.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 9, 2011 04:53 PM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions