: Initial Hearing Decision and Order
: Appeal No. 02-0850
: Acct. No. #####
Taxpayer Services Division of the Utah State :
For Petitioner: PETITIONER and XXXXX, taxpayers
For Respondent: Susan Barnum, Legal Counsel for the Division, and Bret Wilding
Petitioner brings this appeal from a decision to deny Petitioners the “at-home parent” tax credit for tax year 2001. This matter was argued in an Initial Hearing on July 18, 2002.
At issue is whether Petitioners were entitled to a tax credit in 2001 for their twins, who turned one year old on December 29, 2001. The credit, which is set out in section 59-10-108.1, is a credit for a parent to stays home to care full time for a “qualifying child.” A “qualifying child” is “a child who is no more than 12 months of age on the last day of the taxable year for which the credit is claimed.”
The Petitioners’ twins were born December 29, 2000. Petitioners correctly claimed the credit on their year 2000 tax return. Petitioners also claimed the credit for the twins on their 2001 return, on their theory that the twins turned 12 months old on December 29, 2001 and remained 12 months old until January 29, 2002. Therefore, according to Petitioners, the twins were “12 months of age on the last day” of 2001. Petitioners contend that had the legislature intended some other reading of the law, it could have selected other wording that would foreclose any confusion.
Respondent states that the statute applies to allow one credit per child, during the first year of the child’s life. That is, the credit applies to a tax year in which the child has not yet reached its 12th month before the end of the tax year. In support of that position, Respondent provided a copy of a portion of the Senate floor debate at the time that the provision was enacted into law. There, Senator Mulestien specifically addressed the question of whether the credit could be taken for a child in more than one tax year. Senator Mulestien stated that if a child is born at any time in December of a given tax year, it is considered to be one month old for that tax year and a “qualifying child” for the tax credit in that year. The following December, then, the child is considered to be in its 13th month prior to the end of the tax year and, therefore, ineligible for the credit in the next tax year.
Respondent also drew attention to a 1953 Utah Supreme Court decision in which the court discussed “one month” in relation to the time for filing an appeal under Rule 73 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. The case involved the time period for filing an appeal from a decision issued on November 22. The appellant filed an appeal on December 23. In that case, the court stated that the one month filing period began to run from November 23 and expired on December 22 and not December 23, as the appellant argued. The court stated that “a month commences at the beginning of the day of the month on which it starts and ends at the expiration of the day before the same day of the next month.” In the case of a month that begins on the first day of a calendar month, the month ends “at the end of the last day of such month” and not at the end of the first day of the next month. See, In re Lynch’s Estate, 254 P.2d 454 (Utah 1953). The point of introducing this case is to illustrate at least one context in which a statutory time frame is construed to set a definite point of termination of a period. Applying this concept to this case, the twins reached the end of their first 12 months of life on December 28, 2001 and began their 13th month on December 29, 2001.
We uphold the Respondent’s position in this matter. First, Respondent’s reading of the law comports with the legislative intent to allow one credit per child during the first year of its life. Second, Petitioners’ reading of the law allows two years worth of credits for any child born in December and seems to place the these parents on different footing than parents of children born at any other time during the year.