Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Ind. Courts - An update to "A look at the Indiana Tax Court"
On Sept. 2, 2014 the ILB posted a long entry headed "A look at the Indiana Tax Court." The post came about because the ILB had received a number of notes from readers asking about the long delays it took to get a decision from the Indiana Tax Court, and the ILB's own observations of the limited number of opinions issued by that Court.
The Sept. 2nd post, with several charts and graphs, showed, inter alia, that the average time from transmittal to an opinion in 2014 was 1,067 days. Based on the charts, the post concluded:
[W]hile the number of new cases filed has gone down starting in 2011, the backlog has soared during the same period. Also notable is that, beginning in 2011, when there are effectively two tax court judges, the number of decisions on merits issued each year has been less than that of previous years, when there was only one tax court judge.Two and one-half months later, what has changed?
For one thing, the Tax Court judge, Judge Wentworth, who was up for retention at the general election on November 4th, was retained by the voters for a 10-year term by a vote of 713,998 to 317,849. This "yes" vote was second highest of the four appellate judges up for retention. Only Chief Justice Rush scored higher, with a vote of 720,948 to 324,484.
Secondly, in the two and one-half months since September 2nd, the Tax Court has issued only two additional rulings, one dated Sept. 4 was a four-page ruling on a petition for rehearing. The other, dated Sept. 18, was the denial of a Motion for Trial Rule 37 sanctions.
As for hearings, the Sept. 2nd ILB post listed the 19 hearings that had been set or scheduled in 2014. Looking forward, the post showed that two Tax Court hearings had been scheduled for September, one for October, and none for the months of November or December.
A look at the calendars today shows the Oct. 9th hearing was cancelled and rescheduled for Dec. 11th in the Statehouse. Two hearings were added in October, for the 22nd and the 29th, both in the Statehouse. One two-hour hearing has been set for November 6th, in Madison, Indiana. Finally, a one-hour hearing has been scheduled for December 5th in Evansville. That gives a total of 23 Tax Court hearings during 2014, 3 of them outside Indianapolis.
The Tax Court backlog at the end of 2013 was 193 cases. Based on the limited number of hearings and final decisions recorded in 2014, it seems unlikely that the backlog has appreciably decreased this year, particularly as new cases were filed during that same period.
The Tax Court's 2013-2015 budget request was a valuable piece of information the ILB relied upon in preparing its Sept. 2 post.*
The 2015-2017 Budget Committee Hearings Schedule for tomorrow, November 19, lists the Indiana Tax Court presentation from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
*Also useful was a story in the March 25, 2013 issue of Indiana Legislative Insight, cited in this ILB post, about the backlog at the Tax Court, along with this follow-up post from March 29, 2013.)