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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The perils of those sort-of holidays

What day of the week is it today? It doesn't feel like Tuesday. With Christmas on Sunday, yesterday was a holiday for most folks. But not everyone. The people who write parking tickets in Portland were out in full force. Such a lovely gift to the citizenry from the money-desperate Sam Rand Twins. Wonder how many people were surprised by the citations they found on their windshields.

Other holiday observances are even more ambiguous. We've written in the past about Columbus Day, for example -- a big deal back east, but in Oregon not so much. Here's a funny court case, decided last week, in which the Oregon Department of Revenue got caught in that box. They were supposed to serve papers on the Honda motor company on October 9 to preserve their tax case against Honda. Since that date fell on a Sunday, the law gave the revenuers until Monday the 10th to effectuate the service of process. But they needed to get the papers in the mail as certified mail by that date, and the Post Office was closed on that Monday for the federal observance of Columbus Day. And so the state got them in the mail as soon as the Post Office opened on Tuesday.

The Oregon Tax Court just threw out the case, on the ground that the taxing agency's mailing was too late. Although Columbus Day is a federal holiday, it isn't an Oregon state holiday. And so the deadline was Monday the 10th, and the Department of Revenue didn't meet it.

Filing screwups happen to taxpayers all the time, the court said, and so it's only fair to hold the taxing authority to the same standards. Tit for tat. And so Honda's off the hook in its tax dispute with Oregon.

Comments (9)

Fascinating. And they weren't allowed to use FedEx? Taxpayers could. I just checked on fedex.com and it said that this year, at least, they operated on Columbus Day.

The issue was not timely filing in court (that happened) or actual service to Honda, the other party (that happened too), but a specific statuory requirement that the service be perfected by certified mail. The only entity that does certified mail is the USPS and they were closed on Columbus Day.

As for those pesky parking tickets in downtown yesterday, I went to there to do some shopping. Saw there were cars that had been ticketed. Got back in my car and headed back home.

I guess yesterday wasn't a City of Portland holiday. In that case why wasn't everyone at work?

actual service to Honda, the other party (that happened too)

Not really:

The department faxed a copy of the complaint to the person who had been counsel for taxpayer in the Magistrate Division, a person who was, in any case, not authorized to accept service of process for taxpayer.... The department also delivered a copy of the complaint to the office of the registered agent of taxpayer, but the delivery was not accomplished during regular business hours of that agent.

Nothing like brinksmanship --waiting 'til the very last minute-- the bane of any legal practitioner.

If you give a lawyer a deadline, one thing is guaranteed -- you won't get it before then.

Oddly, in Seattle, parking was free downtown on Dec. 26. The stated reason underlying this decision: to increase business traffic.

Of course, in business-friendly Portland....

Must have been some pretty good overtime for the Meter Maids and Men - yesterday was a COP holiday for employees.

Bah humbug, City of Portland! Really, I mean isn't Christmas a federal holiday? And don't we (the City) honor that on the other nebulous days such as Columbus day? Wish I could afford to move OUT of the city.

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