Georgia Tax Tribunal Issues First Decision

Georgia Tax Tribunal Issues First Decision

The Georgia Tax Tribunal (“the Court”) commenced operations on January 1, 2013. The Court was established in 2012 when Georgia Governor Deal signed the Georgia Tax Tribunal Act of 2012. The Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Court to issue declaratory relief in most Georgia state tax disputes involving a rule or action of the Georgia Department of Revenue (“the Department”).

In the first decision issued by the Court, John Doe I and John Doe II v. Douglas J. Macginnitie, Commissioner of Georgia Department of Revenue,[1] the taxpayers learned of dubious deductions and filing statuses on returns prepared by their deceased tax return preparer. The taxpayers disclosed the irregularities to the Department and sought a three-year lookback period for calculation of taxes, interest and penalties. The Department rejected and asserted a five-year lookback period. The taxpayers filed a petition with the Court seeking a three-year lookback period.

The Court, quoting such noted case law as Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (U.S. 1803), dismissed the taxpayers’ action, finding that its jurisdiction did not extend to matters involving actions of the Department which were not undertaken pursuant to a rule or other published decision. The Court explained that the relief sought by the taxpayers was equivalent to issuing a mandamus against the Department, which it refused to do.

While this first decision is fairly limited to impacting only the particular taxpayers, it is encouraging to see the Court begin to address, and hopefully provide guidance and clarity, to Georgia state tax disputes.

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[1] 2013-1 Ga. Tax Tribunal , October 1, 2013.