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Puppy mill tax law put on a short leash by Indiana Tax Court ruling

When Indiana decided to use its tax laws to lower the boom on puppy mills, there was great hope that such efforts would spread nationwide.

Under the Hoosier State's jeopardy tax assessment law, a state court filing alleging a breeder owes delinquent income and sales taxes would allow the state to seize the business' taxable assets. In these cases, that's puppies and dogs.

The Indiana Tax Court, however, has ruled that this tax dog won't hunt.

Judge Martha Wentworth found that the actions of the Indiana Department of Revenue and Attorney General exceeded their authority by using jeopardy tax assessments to seize 240 dogs from a Harrison County property.

After being taken from Virginia and Kristin Garwood, the animals were sold for $300 to the Humane Society.

"The department wielded the power of jeopardy assessments as a sword to eliminate a socially undesirable activity and close down a suspected 'puppy mill,' not to fill the state's coffers with the tax liabilities the Garwoods purportedly owed," Wentworth said, noting the 240 dogs were worth far more than $300.

In a separate case, however, the two women did plead guilty to failure to collect sales taxes.

Follow-up friday icon And it's only fitting on this Follow-up Friday that a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said that office plans to appeal the puppy mill tax ruling to the state Supreme Court.

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