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May 22, 2014 08:55 AM

SD Supreme Court Sides With Hunting Lodge In Tax Case

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that one of South Dakota’s premier hunting lodges does not have to pay use tax on items it sells as part of its hunting packages.

Paul Nelson Farm near Agar, South Dakota charges five percent sales tax on its hunting packages. But the South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation conducted an audit on the business between 2006 and 2009 and found that the hunting lodge was not paying tax on the food, beverages and ammunition that it purchased for the customers. The Department of Revenue and Regulation said Paul Nelson Farms owed more than $17,000 in unpaid tax and interest.

But attorneys for the lodge argued that since it charges sales tax on the final package it doesn’t have to pay use tax on those items up front.

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On Thursday the South Dakota Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Paul Nelson Farm.

“None of the arguments raised by the Department convince us that a plain reading of the use tax statute imposes a use tax upon the food, beverages and ammunition purchased by Paul Nelson Farm,” South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote.

The justices say since Paul Nelson Farm is essentially reselling the food, beverages, and ammunition and charging a sales tax with the total package it does not also need to pay a use tax.

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