California taxpayers have no constitutional right to a jury trial to resolve disputed tax refunds. The state Supreme Court unanimously rejected the notion that taxpayers may ask a jury to decide whether they should get a tax refund in disputes with the Franchise Tax Board.
The case stems from the claim by Tom Gonzales, representing his son’s estate, filed a complaint in 2006 alleging that the estate had paid over $15 million as part of a tax amnesty program and reserved the right to seek a refund. His complaint in San Francisco County Superior Court sought a refund of state personal income taxes from 2000 and 2001 and demanded a jury trial.
The California Supreme Court rejected the claim of a state constitutional right to a jury trial saying it long ago recognized that tax proceedings are different, particularly in the area of tax collection.
Case: Franchise Tax Board v. Sup. Ct. of San Francisco (Gonzales) No. S176943 (Ca Supreme Ct.)