Kunza v. Commissioner of Revenue, 9412-R

CourtTax Court of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtJane N. Bowman, Judge.
PartiesMikel & Tanya Kunza, Appellants, v. Commissioner of Revenue, Appellee.
Decision Date08 January 2021
Docket Number9412-R

Mikel & Tanya Kunza, Appellants,
v.

Commissioner of Revenue, Appellee.

No. 9412-R

Tax Court of Minnesota, Regular Division, Clay County

January 8, 2021


This matter came before The Honorable Jane N. Bowman, Judge of the Minnesota Tax Court, on November 5, 2020.

Appellants Mikel and Tanya Kunza are self-represented.

John M. O'Mahoney, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General, represents appellee Commissioner of Revenue.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

The Commissioner of Revenue moves to dismiss the above-captioned action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Commissioner argues the appellants' basis for appeal-that the statute of limitations prevented the Commissioner's adjustments to the appellants' individual income tax liability and property tax refund-is without merit. The court, upon all the files, records, and proceedings herein, now makes the following:

ORDER

1. The Commissioner's motion to dismiss is granted. The Commissioner's Notice of Determination on Appeal, with a notice date of February 20, 2020, is affirmed.

2. Mikel and Tanya Kunza's tax appeal is dismissed.

IT IS SO ORDERED. THIS IS A FINAL ORDER. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

MEMORANDUM

Jane N. Bowman, Judge.

I. Background

After appellants Mikel and Tanya Kunza filed their 2015 Minnesota individual income tax return and property tax refund claim, the Commissioner received a report from the Internal Revenue Service, Form CP 2000, dated September 11, 2017, which adjusted appellants' federal income upward by $15, 299 for the 2015 tax year.[1] Appellants did not report this change to the Commissioner.[2]

The federal adjustment resulted in a corresponding adjustment to appellants' Minnesota income tax and property tax refund claim for 2015.[3] With a September 24, 2019 notice date, the Commissioner issued a Tax Order assessing appellants $3, 394 in tax, penalty, and interest.[4]Appellants administratively appealed the Tax Order; upon review, the Commissioner abated a 10% penalty, but otherwise affirmed the underlying tax and interest in a February 20, 2020 Notice of Determination on Appeal.[5] Appellants timely filed a notice of appeal with this court, alleging the assessment in the Notice of Determination on Appeal was barred by a statute of limitations.[6]

The Commissioner originally scheduled the current motion for August 25, 2020.[7] Upon request, the court postponed the hearing until September 25, 2020, to allow appellants the opportunity to retain an attorney.[8] The day before the rescheduled hearing, Mr. Kunza emailed the Commissioner and the court with several arguments against the motion, and also noted he would do his best to attend the hearing, but it would be difficult with his children home as a result of distance learning.[9] The court again postponed the hearing "to allow Mr. Kunza a final opportunity to file a response with documentation." [10] On October 1 and 5, 2020, the court received written submissions from Mr. Kunza and an "IRS transcript for 2015," respectively.[11]After confirming the Commissioner was not filing a reply, the court scheduled the motion hearing for November 5, 2020.[12] Appellants did not appear.[13]

II. The Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss

The Commissioner moves to dismiss the present action for failing to state a claim for which relief can be granted.[14] Specifically, the Commissioner argues appellants' purported defense- that the Commissioner's assessment was untimely-is without merit.[15]

A. Principals Governing the Commissioner's Motion

Orders of the Commissioner are prima facie valid. Minn. Stat. § 271.06, subd. 6 (2020); Minn. Stat. § 270C.33, subd. 6 (2020). "[A] prima facie case simply means one that prevails in the absence of evidence invalidating it." Tousignant v. St. Louis Cty., 615 N.W.2d 53, 59 (Minn. 2000) (quoting Trudeau v. Sina Contracting Co., 241 Minn. 79, 87, 62 N.W.2d 492, 498 (1954)). Because the Commissioner's order is presumptively valid, appellants bear "the burden of going forward with the evidence to rebut or meet the presumption." Conga Corp. v. Comm'r of Revenue, 868 N.W.2d 41, 53 (Minn. 2015) (citation omitted).

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(e). "If, on a motion asserting the defense that the pleading fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment …." Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02. "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.01. "When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported, the nonmoving party must present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 69 (Minn. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when there is sufficient evidence regarding an essential element … to permit reasonable persons to draw different conclusions." St. Paul Park Ref. Co. v. Domeier, 950 N.W.2d 547, 549 (Minn. 2020) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Chapter 289A (2020) concerns the administration and compliance with Minnesota's taxing statutes. See Minn. Stat. § 289A.01 ("This chapter applies to the laws administered by the commissioner under" certain taxing statutes.). Section 289A.38 specifies the time limitations within which the Commissioner must make assessments. Generally, "the amount of taxes assessable must be assessed within 3-1/2 years after the date the return is filed." Id., subd. 1. Relevant to this case, the statute extends the statute of limitations in two instances....

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