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J.S. Marten, Inc. v. Indiana Department of State Revenue

Tax Court of Indiana

November 20, 2015

J.S. MARTEN, INC., JANICE S. MARTEN, and CHRISTOPHER M. MARTEN, Petitioners,
v.
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVENUE, Respondent

          FOR PETITIONERS: G. JAYSON MARKSBERRY, MARKSBERRY LAW OFFICE, LLC, Brownsburg, IN.

         FOR RESPONDENT: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA, JESSICA R. GASTINEAU, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.

          OPINION

Page 535

          ORDER ON RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         Thomas G. Fisher, Senior Judge.

         J.S. Marten, Inc., Janice S. Marten, and Christopher M. Marten (the Martens) have appealed the Indiana Department of State Revenue's denial of their claim for a refund of sales tax remitted for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 tax years (" the years at issue" ). The matter, currently before the Court on the Department's Motion to Dismiss, presents two issues: 1) whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the Martens' appeal; and, if so, 2) whether the Martens have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         During the years at issue, the Martens operated a retail store and sold tangible personal property to customers in Indiana. (See Pet'rs' V. Pet. Judicial Review Final Determination [Department] (" Pet'rs' V. Pet." ), Attach. Final Order Denying Refund at 2.) Between July and October of 2008, the Martens remitted, in five separate payments, $162,529.11 in sales tax to the Department for the years at issue. (See Pet'rs' V. Pet., Attachs. J.S. Marten IDOR Timeline at 2-3 and Final Order Denying Refund at 2-3.) On January 1, 2012, the Martens filed a refund claim with the Department seeking to recover $162,396.34 of those payments. (See Pet'rs' V. Pet., Attach. Final Order Denying Refund at 2.) On October 26, 2012, after conducting a hearing, the Department denied the Martens' refund claim, concluding that it had not been timely filed under Indiana Code § 6-8.1-9-1. (See Pet'rs' V. Pet., Attach. Final Order Denying Refund.)

         On January 24, 2013, the Martens initiated an appeal. On February 27, 2013, the Department moved to dismiss the Martens' appeal. On November 5, 2015, after settlement negotiations failed, the Court conducted a hearing on the motion to dismiss. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         1) Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         The Department first argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the Martens' appeal because they failed to comply with a statutory prerequisite for initiating it: they did not file a timely claim for a refund of sales tax. (See Resp't Mot. Dismiss ¶ ¶ 5-14; Mem Supp. Resp't Mot. Dismiss.) The Department is mistaken.

          " Subject matter jurisdiction 'refers only to the power of a court to hear and decide a particular class of cases.'" Marion Cnty. Auditor v. State, 33 N.E.3d 398, 400 (Ind.Tax Ct. 2015) (quoting Pivarnik v. N. Ind. Pub. Serv. Co., 636 N.E.2d 131, 137 (Ind. 1994)). Subject matter ...


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