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Philip L. Hart v. Idaho State Tax Commission and

April 26, 2012

PHILIP L. HART, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
IDAHO STATE TAX COMMISSION AND
IDAHO BOARD OF TAX APPEALS,
RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. John T. Mitchell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Jones, Justice.

2012 Opinion No. 70

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The decision of the district court is affirmed.

This case involves Philip L. Hart's appeal of an Idaho Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) decision. Hart appealed two State Tax Commission Notice of Deficiency determinations to the BTA. The BTA found Hart's appeal untimely and therefore dismissed it. Hart appealed to the district court, which likewise found his BTA appeal untimely and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. We affirm the district court.

I.

BACKGROUND

The State Tax Commission (Commission) issued Hart two Notice of Deficiency (NOD) determinations on September 4, 2008. One NOD covered tax years 1996 through 1998 and the other was for 1999 through 2004. The Commission issued separate NODs because Hart paid no income taxes for the years 1996 through 1998. He apparently paid some taxes, but less than he owed, for 1999 through 2004. Hart protested the NODs and requested that the Commission make a redetermination, contending he had no outstanding tax liability. Hart also requested an informal hearing before the Commission, which he delayed until July 2009. After the hearing, and after Hart's further delay and failure to provide additional relevant information in support of his protest, the Commission issued a decision on September 30, 2009, affirming and finalizing the NODs. Hart acknowledged receiving the Commission's final decision on October 2, 2009. The Commission's final decision indicated that Hart owed $53,523 for unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest for tax years 1996 through 2004. On December 31, 2009, Hart wrote the Commission, stating that he intended to appeal the NODs after the Idaho Legislature's 2010 session. Hart is a member of the Idaho State Legislature and he asserted that he therefore had a right to defer his appeal.

On March 30, 2010, Hart sent a letter to the BTA entitled "Notice of Appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals." Included with that letter were two checks, totaling $9,462.04, which Hart tendered as a portion of the cash bond necessary for his BTA appeal. Hart recognized, however, that his outstanding tax liability, as specified in the NODs, required a bond greater than he submitted. Hart thus asked the BTA to "consider [his] letter [a] promise to pay the remaining [amount]." Hart's March 30 letter did not include any specific objections to the Commission's findings, but it did state that he would submit arguments in a subsequent filing. On March 31, 2010, Hart sent another letter to the BTA entitled "Notice of Appeal to the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals." That letter included Hart's objections to the NODs. The BTA, upon motion from the Commission, determined it lacked jurisdiction because it found Hart's appeal untimely. The BTA denied Hart's motion for reconsideration of the dismissal on September 24, 2010.

On October 22, 2010, Hart filed an appeal of the BTA decision. The district court, upon motion by the Commission, likewise determined it lacked jurisdiction, finding Hart's BTA appeal untimely. Hart filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court denied. Hart then filed this appeal and asks this Court to determine whether the district court erred in dismissing his petition for lack of jurisdiction. He also contends the district court erred when it denied his motion to reschedule a hearing on his motion to reconsider.

II.

ANALYSIS

A. The district court lacked jurisdiction to consider Hart's petition.

On appeal, Hart contends that the district court employed an improper analysis to determine it lacked jurisdiction. The Commission and BTA respond that, regardless of how the court articulated the standard it used, the court ...


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