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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court posts opinion filed May 22nd

In Marion County Auditor v. State of Indiana, a 10-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:

The Marion County Auditor has filed an appeal with this Court challenging the constitutionality of Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12. * * *

Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12 permits only taxpayers to appeal to the Indiana Board from a PTABOA determination on a Form 133. I.C. § 6-1.1-15-12(e). See also Musgrave, 658 N.E.2d at 141. Consequently, the Auditor lacks statutory standing to appeal the PTABOA’s determination on Grandville’s Forms 133 to the Indiana Board and, ultimately, to this Court. The Auditor acknowledges as much.

Despite the lack of statutory standing, the Auditor urges the Court not to dismiss her case because she has “traditional standing” in that she has been “aggrieved” (i.e., she has suffered an injury). Specifically, she states:

* * * However, [Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12] does not provide a similar remedy to [county auditors and assessors across the State] nor does it provide [them] with a direct avenue for judicial review of a PTABOA determination, effectively foreclosing [them] from judicial review of an administrative tax determination . . . [A]s a result ... [Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12] is invalid under the Indiana Constitution. ... Th[is] issue before the Court affects all county auditors across the State and is likely to recur. Thus, this Court should . . . address the merits of [my] claims[.]
* * *
By its plain terms, Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12 denies standing to the Auditor to appeal the PTABOA’s decision on Grandville’s Forms 133 to this Court. Consequently, the fact that she is a governmental official who is challenging the constitutionality of a statute is of little significance here. * * *

This Court is a creature of statute. As such, it may only determine the constitutionality of Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12 when a case containing such a claim is properly before it. Here, the Auditor does not have statutory or common law standing to appeal the PTABOA’s decision on Grandville’s Forms 133 to this Court. Accordingly, the issue of whether Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12 is unconstitutional must be decided another day.[3] The State’s motion to dismiss the Auditor’s appeal pursuant to Trial Rule 12(B)(6) is hereby GRANTED.
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[3] The Auditor has asked the Court to declare Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-12 unconstitutional but that very statute bars the Court from deciding the issue. The irony of this situation is not lost on the Court. Nonetheless, the Auditor’s remedy lies with the Indiana General Assembly.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 26, 2015 01:48 PM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions