In a recent unreported decision, the Maryland Appellate Court held that taxpayers were not entitled to a 13 percent interest rate on a judgement after the legislature lowered the state’s refund interest rate during the pendency of the taxpayers’ appeal.
The taxpayers successfully challenged the limits that Maryland state law placed on the tax credit for income taxes paid to other states. The law authorized a tax credit against state income taxes but not county income taxes. While the taxpayers’ claim was pending, the state legislature lowered the interest rate for tax refunds from 13 percent to the 2015 prime lending rate. The court characterized the lower interest rate as “sound fiscal planning” because of the estimated $200 million in potential refund claims that would be paid if the taxpayers prevailed with their claim.
The court held that the legislature set up the tax refund interest rate on “shifting sands,” and that the state has never consistently provided interest on all refunds nor locked the interest rate in place. Accordingly, the taxpayers could not reasonably rely on or have a settled expectation of a specific rate.
The court also noted that this is the fourth appeal to reach an appellate court in this controversy, deeming it a “threequel.”