Scott v. Dept. of Rev.Annotate this Case
Taxpayer Leslie Scott appealed a tax court judgment that dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In 2012, the Department of Revenue issued notices of deficiency assessments against taxpayer relating to his personal income taxes for the tax years 2007 and 2008. Taxpayer appealed, and the Magistrate Division of the Tax Court determined that taxpayer had substantiated some claimed deductions that the department had disputed, but also that he had additional unreported income. Following the proceedings in the Magistrate Division, the department assessed additional income taxes for 2007 and 2008, and issued notices of liability balances to that effect. Taxpayer appealed to the Regular Division. The Tax Court received taxpayer’s complaint, a declaration of mailing, a motion for a stay of the requirement to pay the taxes owed, and the filing fee for the complaint. The Tax Court did not, however, receive an affidavit, with the complaint, alleging that payment of the disputed amounts pending appeal would cause him undue hardship. The department moved to dismiss taxpayer’s complaint on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter because taxpayer had not complied with the requirements of ORS 305.419 and TCR 18 C. Taxpayer opposed the department’s motion and submitted a declaration by his counsel that, according to counsel’s recollection, he had printed and assembled a packet for mailing to the Tax Court that included a complaint, a declaration of mailing, a motion for a stay, a hardship declaration, and a filing fee. Ultimately, the Tax Court granted the department’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed. "We hesitate to deem as jurisdictional a statutory requirement that is designed to allow someone without funds access to the courts to pursue their statutory appeal rights. […] what makes the taxpayer’s complaint subject to dismissal is the failure to establish undue hardship, not the failure to file an affidavit with the complaint." The Supreme Court concluded the Tax Court erred in dismissing taxpayer’s appeal on that ground.