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The Timely Filing Requirement Imposed by Oregon DOR in Order for Taxpayers to be Able to use the "Prior Year Tax Safe Harbor" Stricken by the Oregon Tax Court 

On September 13, 2013, in Finley v. Oregon Department of Revenue, the Oregon Tax Court granted taxpayer’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and held Oregon Administrative Rule 150-316.587(8)-(A) is invalid to the extent it requires taxpayers to have timely filed their prior year’s Oregon income tax return to be eligible for the “Prior Year Tax Safe Harbor.”

I represented the taxpayer in this matter.  The facts were straightforward.  The tax years at issue were 2008 and 2009.  The taxpayer was a resident of Oregon during these years.

For tax year 2008, the taxpayer paid his taxes in a timely manner.  Unfortunately, he filed his Oregon individual income tax return late. 

For tax year 2009, the taxpayer had a substantial increase in his income due to a capital gain-generating transaction.  To avoid an estimated tax payment penalty, on December 31, 2009, thinking he qualified for the “Prior Year Tax Safe Harbor,” he made an Oregon estimated tax payment of 100% of his 2008 Oregon income tax liability.  Then, he timely filed his 2009 Oregon income tax return, and he paid the additional taxes shown due on the return.  Thereafter, the Oregon Department of Revenue sent the taxpayer a nice letter, thanking him for his generous tax payment, but requesting he pay an additional large sum, representing an estimated tax (late payment) penalty.  Not being able to resolve the matter with the Department, we filed a complaint in the Oregon Tax Court.  The case was ultimately heard by Judge Henry Breithaupt in the Regular Division of the Oregon Tax Court.

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Larry J. Brant
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Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder in Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.

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