« Ind. Gov't. - More on "Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper under review following accusations he staked out the home of a sheriff's deputy" | Main | Courts - Florida Supreme Court rules Gov. Scott violated separation of powers »

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ind. Decisoins - "Court rules state overstepped by taking dogs to recoup taxes"

Updating last Saturday's ILB entry, headed "Tax Court rules in puppy mill case; holds use of jeopardy assessments not warranted," reporting on the Tax Court ruling August 19th in the case of Virginia Garwood, et al. v. Indiana Dept. of State Revenue, and this ILB entry dated August 22nd, quoting from a NWI Times story headed "Court rejects tax tool used to close puppy mill," Grace Schneider of the Louisville Courier Times has a story today which includes some additional information. Soime quotes:

The owners of a dog-breeding business near Mauckport whose dogs and puppies were seized in a state-led raid two years ago have won a round in court against the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

The Indiana Tax Court ruled last Friday that the state overstepped its authority when it used a provision of state law to recover unpaid income and sales taxes from Virginia Garwood and her daughter Kristin Garwood of Breezy Valley Dairy Farm.

The ruling is the latest legal skirmish between the state and the Garwoods.

Neither Virginia Garwood nor Kristin Garwood could be reached for comment Wednesday, but their lawyer, Stacy Newton of Evansville, said the women feel vindicated by the ruling.

“They’ve been villified in that area,” Newton said. “There were other methods that the state could have used” to recover the unpaid taxes. * * *

The Garwoods pleaded guilty in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis last year to separate misdemeanor tax evasion charges filed by the attorney general’s office. The elder Garwood also pleaded guilty to felony income-tax evasion.

But the women fought back on two fronts. They sued the attorney general’s office, the state and other parties involved in the seizure, arguing that their constitutional rights were violated because their animals were taken without due process. That case is pending in federal court.

They also appealed a ruling in a Harrison Circuit Court in the civil tax case, which resulted in the latest tax court ruling against Zoeller’s office and the Indiana Department of Revenue.

The ILB will post some of the federal court documents, perhaps later today.

More from today's LCJ story:

Noting that a “media circus roiled” around the seizure, [Judge] Wentworth wrote that “the department wielded the power of jeopardy assessment as a sword to eliminate a socially undesirable activity and close down a suspected ‘puppy mill,’ not to fill the state coffers with the tax liabilities the Garwoods purportedly owed.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 25, 2011 07:14 AM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions