Jensen v. State Tax Comm'n

In Jensen v. State Tax Comm'n, 835 P.2d 965, 969 (Utah 1992), the plaintiffs failed to file proper state income tax returns beginning in 1978. 835 P.2d at 967. The State Tax Commission requested further information, to which Mr. Jensen claimed he was not required to file a state return. Id. In 1990, the Tax Commission sued the plaintiffs for $ 16,608 in back taxes. Id. at 968. The plaintiffs petitioned for a redetermination, to which the Collection Division responded by increasing the demand of back taxes to $ 344,419. Id. The Commission sustained the deficiency, and plaintiffs appealed to this court. Id. As a preliminary issue, the court considered whether it had jurisdiction to review the Commission's ruling because plaintiffs failed to deposit the full amount of taxes, interest, and penalties as required by statute to obtain judicial review. After discussing the Open Courts Clause and Industrial Commission v. Evans, 52 Utah 394, 174 P. 825 (1918), the court stated, "Plaintiffs are in a position similar to the employer in Evans and have the right to test the legality of their liability under the ruling of the Tax Commission in a court of law." Jensen, 835 P.2d at 969. "The requirement that they deposit the full amount of the deficiency assessed by the Commission is, on the facts of this case, an effective bar to judicial review." Id. "Thus, to the extent that the statute requiring tax protesters to deposit the amount of the deficiency assessed precludes reasonable access to judicial review, it violates the open courts provision and is unconstitutional as applied." Id.