PETITIONER, APPEARING PRO SE: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
ROCKLAND R. SNYDER JEFFREY A. MODISETT
Indianapolis, IN ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
ROCKLAND R. SNYDER, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-9806-TA-70
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVENUE, )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVENUE
January 21, 2000
Rockland R. Snyder (Snyder) appeals the final determination of the Indiana Department of
State Revenue (Department) denying his protest challenging the constitutionality of Indianas adjusted gross
income tax on his wages for the 1993, 1994 and 1995 tax years.
While Snyder raises various issues, the Court finds one to be dispositive:
whether wages are income for purposes of calculating Indianas adjusted gross income
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Snyder, an Indiana resident, filed individual income tax returns for the 1993, 1994
and 1995 tax years. In each return, Snyder acknowledged having received wages
but declared that his wages did not constitute income. Additionally, Snyder claimed
refunds for all state income taxes withheld by his employer. The Department
subsequently assessed Snyder for each years unpaid taxes. Thereafter, Snyder protested the
entire amount of state adjusted gross income tax owed for each year and
the Departments refusal to grant him a refund. The Department conducted an
administrative hearing on February 23, 1998. On April 27, 1998, the Department issued
a Letter of Findings denying Snyders protest.
Snyder filed an original tax appeal with this Court on June 22, 1998.
He filed a motion for summary judgment on November 9, 1998.
The Department filed its response to Snyders summary judgment motion, together with its
own cross motion for summary judgment, on December 4, 1998. On December
7, 1998, Snyder filed a response to the Departments cross motion for summary
judgment. The Court heard arguments regarding the parties respective motions on January
Additional facts will be supplied where needed.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
This Court reviews the Departments final determinations de novo and is not bound
by either the evidence presented or the issues raised at the administrative level.
See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-8.1-5-1(h) (West 1989 & Supp. 1999); Thomas
v. Indiana Dept of State Revenue, 675 N.E.2d 362, 365 (Ind. Tax Ct.
1997). Summary judgment is only appropriate where no genuine issues of material
fact exist and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. See Ind. T.R. 56(C); Jefferson Smurfit Corp. v. Indiana Dept
of State Revenue, 681 N.E.2d 806, 807 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997). Cross
motions for summary judgment do not alter this standard. See id.
Although he admits that that the Indiana Constitution authorizes the General Assembly to
impose an income tax, Snyder nevertheless claims that Indianas individual income tax statutes
do not define an individuals wages as income. Specifically, Snyder contends that,
for purposes of computing his adjusted gross income, Indiana has adopted the definition
of gross income used in the Internal Revenue Code. According to Snyder,
that definition only includes wages as a source of income and not as
income itself. As the Court explains infra, Snyders position lacks merit.
As this Court noted in Richey v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, The
constitutional legitimacy of the general assemblys decision to tax income is beyond dispute.
The right to tax is a crucial attribute of sovereignty. 634
N.E.2d 1375, 1376 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1994) (citing MCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S.
(4 Wheat.) 316, 428 (1819)). The Indiana Constitution, art. IX, § 8
provides: The general assembly may levy and collect a tax upon income,
from whatever source derived, at such rates, in such manner, and with such
exemptions as may be prescribed by law. The Indiana General Assembly, pursuant
to the Adjusted Gross Income Tax Act of 1963 (the Act), see Ind.
Code Ann. § 6-3-1-1 (West 1989), has imposed an adjusted gross income tax,
see Ind. Code Ann. § 6-3-2-1 (West 1989). To define adjusted gross
income, as the term applies to all individuals, the Act adopts the definition
in I.R.C. § 62 (1999), with certain modifications. See Ind. Code Ann.
§ 6-3-1-3.5(a) (West Supp. 1999). Likewise, the Act adopts the definition for
gross income found in I.R.C. § 61(a) (1999).
See Ind. Code Ann.
§ 6-3-1-8 (West 1989). I.R.C. § 62 (1999) defines adjusted gross income
to mean, in the case of an individual, gross income less various deductions.
In addition, I.R.C. § 61(a) (1999) defines gross income, in part,
as follows: all income from whatever source derived, including (but not limited
to) . . . Compensation for services, including fees, commissions, fringe benefits, and
To support his argument that wages are sources of income and not just
income, Snyder relies heavily upon two United States Supreme Court casesEisner v. Macomber,
252 U.S. 189, 40 S. Ct. 189 (1920) and Commissioner of Internal Revenue
v. Glenshaw Glass Co., 348 U.S. 426, 75 S. Ct. 473 (1955).
The Court will briefly discuss each case.
In Eisner, the Supreme Court considered whether the Sixteenth Amendment permitted Congress to
tax as income a taxpayers stock dividend made against accumulated profits of the
See footnote The Court in
Eisner defined income as the gain
derived from capital, from labor, or from both combined. 252 U.S. at
207, 40 S. Ct. at 193. Applying this definition, the Court focused
on the phrase derived from capital, which included a gain, a profit, something
of exchangeable value, proceeding from the property, severed from the capital . .
. [and] received or drawn by the recipient (the taxpayer) for his
separate use, benefit and disposal . . . . Id.
The Court first discussed the nature of a stockholders interest, noting that a
stockholder has the right to have the assets employed in the enterprise .
. . [but] has no right to withdraw [capital or profits]. Id.,
252 U.S. at 208, 40 S. Ct. at 194. Next, the Court
explained that a stock dividend did not involve realization of gain by the
stockholder but rather shows that the companys accumulated profits have been capitalized, instead
of distributed to the stockholders or retained as surplus available for distribution in
money or in kind should opportunity offer. Id., 252 U.S. at 211,
40 S. Ct. at 194. According to the Court, the essential and
controlling fact is that the stockholder has received nothing out of the companys
assets for his separate use and benefit. Id. Based on this
reasoning, the Court held that the Sixteenth Amendment did not permit Congress to
tax without apportionment a true stock dividend made lawfully in good faith, or
the accumulated profits behind it, as income of the stockholder. Id., 252
U.S. at 219, 40 S. Ct. at 197.
In Glenshaw Glass, the Court addressed whether money received as exemplary damages for
fraud or as the punitive two-thirds portion of a treble-damage antitrust recovery is
subject to the federal gross income tax pursuant to I.R.C. § 22(a)(1954).
Section 22(a), a predecessor to I.R.C. § 61(a), defined gross income in part
to include gains, profits, and income from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal
service . . . of whatever kind and in whatever form paid, or
. . . gains or profits and income derived from any source whatever.
The Court initially observed that it has frequently stated that this language
was used by Congress to exert in this field the full measure
of its taxing power. Glenshaw Glass, 348 U.S. at 429, 75 S.
Ct. at 476 (citations omitted). The Court further noted that it has
given a liberal construction to this broad phraseology in recognition of the intention
of Congress to tax all gains except those specifically exempted. Id., 348
U.S. at 430, 75 S. Ct. at 476 (citations omitted). The Court
reviewed its holding in Eisner, stating that its definition of income in that
case served a useful purpose by distinguishing gain from capital but that such
definition was not meant to provide a touchstone to all future gross income
questions. Id., 348 U.S. at 431, 75 S. Ct. at 477.
The Court continued by observing that, in the case before it, we have
instances of undeniable accessions to wealth, clearly realized, and over which the taxpayers
have complete dominion. Id. Ultimately, the Court concluded that the damages
in question were subject to the gross income tax. See id., 348
U.S. at 433, 75 S. Ct. at 478. In so doing, the
Court noted the legislative history of the revenue code, which labeled the statutory
gross income tax as being all-inclusive. Id., 348 U.S. at 432, 75
S. Ct. at 477. Moreover, the Court stated that it would do
violence to the plain meaning of the statute and restrict a clear legislative
attempt to bring taxing power to bear upon all receipts constitutionally taxable were
we to say that the payments in question here are not gross income.
Id., 348 U.S. at 433, 75 S. Ct. at 477-78.
Neither Eisner nor Glenshaw Glass stands for the proposition that wages are not
income. Eisner merely concluded that stock dividends are not income within the
meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment because the taxpayer received no separate asset from
the company for his own individual use and benefit. See Eisner, 252
U.S. at 211-12, 40 S. Ct. at 194-95. In short, the taxpayer
realized no gain that was severed from and independent of the companys assets.
See id. The Court in Eisner did not discuss what
constituted a gain derived from labor. However, by analogy to the Courts
treatment of gain derived from capital, one could reasonably surmise that the Court
in Eisner would have viewed wages as representing the gain or profit independent
and separate from the labor an individual provided in exchange for his or
her wages. Glenshaw Glass, in turn, recognized the broad, far-reaching scope of
the federal gross income tax law. See Glenshaw Glass, 348 U.S. at
429-30, 75 S. Ct. at 476. As did the taxpayers in Glenshaw
Glass, Snyder has realized and controlled undeniable accessions to wealth. Id.,
348 U.S. at 431, 75 S. Ct. at 477. Given that the
Court liberally construes the definition of gross income, it is foolish to believe
that Glenshaw Glass can be used to support any contention other than that
wages are income subject to the federal gross income tax. Thus, Snyders
reliance upon these two cases is misplaced.
In addition, a vast number of authorities stand for the proposition that wages
are income. Wages, by common definition, constitute payment for employment services and
not sources of income. See, e.g., Blacks Law Dictionary 766, 1573 (7th
ed. 1999) (defining income as payment that one receives . . . from
employment and wage as Payment for labor or services); Websters Third New Intl
Dictionary 1143, 2569 (1981) (defining income as a gain or recurrent benefit
that is usu. measured in money and . . . derives from capital,
labor, or a combination of both and wage as a pledge or payment
. . . by an employer esp. for labor or services). Moreover,
the federal courts have consistently viewed wages as income. See United States
v. Connor, 898 F.2d 942, 943 (3d Cir. 1990) (Every court which has
ever considered the issue has unequivocally rejected the argument that wages are not
income.) (citations omitted); Wilcox v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 848 F.2d 1007, 1008
(9th Cir. 1988) (First, wages are income.); and Coleman v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, 791 F.2d 68, 70 (7th Cir. 1986) (Wages are income, and the
tax on wages is constitutional.) (citations omitted).
This Court, in fact, has previously considered whether payments for labor are separate
and distinct from the labor performed. In Thomas v. Indiana Department of
Revenue, 675 N.E.2d 362 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997), the taxpayer proffered an argument
similar to Snyders. Relying upon the Supreme Courts definition of income in
Eisner (i.e. income is gain derived from capital, labor or a combination thereof),
the taxpayer argued that the federal definition of income does not include wages,
salaries or other forms of compensation. Specifically, the taxpayer claimed that the
distinction between income and its source is crucial because purported income cannot be
both labor and income at the same time. See id. at 368.
The taxpayer further claimed that income is derived from labor only when
an employer pays an employee to produce a good or service and the
sale of that good or service results in a profit; even then, according
to the taxpayer, only the employer has derived income. See id.
This Court disagreed, pointing out monetary payments made in exchange for labor are
clearly severed from labor and received or drawn by the recipient for his
separate use, benefit, and disposal. Id. In thus concluding, this
Court observed that Eisner explained in like fashion that a monetary dividend payment
would constitute income, separate and distinct from its capital source. Id.
(citing Eisner, 252 U.S. at 209, 40 S. Ct. at 194). This
Court finds no fault with its opinion in Thomas, which in effect determined
that wages are income. See id.
Indiana relies upon the Internal Revenue Codes definitions for gross and adjusted gross
income. Even so, in ascertaining whether Snyder is liable for his
unpaid state adjusted gross income taxes, this Court is not obligated to adopt
the federal courts interpretations of income under I.R.C. § 61(a). However, their
interpretations are certainly persuasive in this matter. Common definition, an overwhelming body
of case law by the United States Supreme Court and federal circuit courts,
and this Courts opinion in Thomas all support the conclusion that wages are
income for purposes of Indianas adjusted gross income tax.
The Court finds that the material facts in this case are undisputed and
that, as a matter of law, Snyders wages are subject to the State
of Indianas adjusted gross income tax. Snyder has demonstrated no entitlement to
relief. Therefore, the Court DENIES his motion for summary judgment. Moreover,
the Court AFFIRMS the Departments final determination in this matter in all respects
and GRANTS the Departments cross motion for summary judgment.
Both parties correctly note that the definition of gross income as found
Ind. Code Ann. § 6-2.1-1-2 (West 1989), which provides that gross income
means all the gross receipts a taxpayer receives . . . from [among
other things] trades, businesses, or commerce, does not apply in resolving the issues
raised in this case. The definition is inapplicable because the term taxpayer, for
the purpose of imposing the gross income tax, does not include individuals per
se. See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-2.1-1-16 (West 1989 & Supp. 1999)
(amended 1993 and 1997). Rather, a taxpayer includes any one of several
listed legal entities, social organizations, persons acting in official capacities or other group
or combination acting as a unit. Id. In contrast, the adjusted
gross income tax applies to both individuals and corporations. See Richey, 634
N.E.2d at 1379 (citing Ind Code Ann. § 6-3-2-1 (West 1989)); see also
Ind. Code Ann. § 6-3-1-15 (West 1989) (defining taxpayer as any person or
any corporation subject to taxation under [I.C. 6-3]). Snyder challenges the States
income tax as it applies to him as an individual taxpayer.
The Sixteenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, provides: The Congress shall have
power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without
apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Footnote: In addition to claiming that wages are sources of income and
not income, Snyder maintains that the federal constitution prohibits Congress from subjecting the
source of an individuals income to an income tax. To support this
position, Snyder relies upon the United States Supreme Courts decision in
Union Pacific Railroad Co., 240 U.S. 1, 36 S. Ct. 236 (1916).
However, a careful reading of the Brushaber opinion proves that Snyders position must
be rejected. The Court in Brushaber recognized that the Sixteenth Amendment permits
Congress to tax income without reference to the incomes source. See Brushaber,
240 U.S. at 19, 36 S. Ct. at 242. Therefore, Snyders position
that sources of income may not be taxed is fatally flawed. See
Graves v. People of N.Y., 306 U.S. 466, 480, 59 S. Ct. 595,
598 (1939) (The theory . . . that a tax on income is
legally or economically a tax on its source, is no longer tenable.).