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Tax Law

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot! Texas Court of Appeals Holds All Alternative Arguments Must Be Clearly Stated In Initial Refund Claim

The Texas Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not have jurisdiction over a taxpayer’s sales and use tax refund claim because the taxpayer failed to properly state the grounds for the refund claim.  The Texas Tax Code requires that a refund claim: (1) be written, (2) “state fully and in detail each reason or ground on which the claim is founded,” and (3) to be timely filed. Tex. Tax Code § 111.104(c)(1)–(3).   In 2012, the taxpayer filed its refund claim, which over several years proceeded through the administrative process winding up at the Texas Court of Appeals.  At the Court of Appeals, the State argued that four years after the taxpayer filed its refund claim it raised for the first time an alternative argument, which was that the property was exempt from sales tax because of a manufacturing exemption.  The court held that the taxpayer was required to include the exemption argument in the initial grounds for the refund claim filed with the Comptroller back in 2012.  In the alternative, the taxpayer argued that the exemption claim was included in the original refund claim because the taxpayer included a schedule that identified the vendor, item, and cited to the tax code provision that supported the refund claim.  The court held that the schedule did not make it “reasonably clear” to the Comptroller that the taxpayer was claiming the manufacturing exemption for the equipment at issue nor did it put the Comptroller on notice for the legal basis for the refund claim.  Hegar v. El Paso Elec. Co., No. 03-18-00790-CV (Tex. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2020).