North Carolina Trial Court Incorrectly Applied Inappropriate Standard of Review

A North Carolina trial court incorrectly applied a de novo standard of review to overturn the Tax Review Board and Assistant Secretary of Revenue’s determination that a taxpayer was not a charitable organization, and therefore was not entitled to a sales and use tax refund. The decision reached by the trial court was based on its independent fact-finding done during the review of the agency’s decision, which is inconsistent with the applicable standard of review and is a misapplication of governing law. Since the trial court did not have the authority to disregard or supplement the administrative agency’s factual determinations, its application of a de novo standard of review was erroneous and necessitates remand for further proceedings in the lower court. (In the Matter of: The Denial of NC Idea’s Refund of Sales and Use Tax for the Period January 1, 2003 through June 30, 2003 by the Secretary of Revenue of North Carolina, North Carolina Court of Appeals, No. COA08-561, April 21, 2009)

Posted on June 29, 2009