RANDY R. MYRUP, PAULA EHRMANTRAUT-KIOSSE, Petitioners and Appellants,
STATE OF MONTANA, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, Respondent and Appellee.
Submitted on Briefs: April 10, 2013
District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DV 12-0621 Honorable Gregory R. Todd, Presiding Judge
For Appellants: Randy R. Myrup (Self-Represented), Paula Ehrmantraut-Kiosse, (Self-Represented)
For Appellee: Amanda L. Myers, Special Assistant Attorney General, Montana Department of Revenue
Patricia O. Cotter, Justice
¶1 Paula Ehrmantraut-Kiosse (Paula) and Randy Myrup (Randy) appeal from an order of Montana's Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County, affirming the State Tax Appeal Board's denial of tax deductions Paula and Randy (collectively "Taxpayers") claimed for educational expenses. We affirm.
¶2 Taxpayers raise the following issue on appeal:
¶3 Did the District Court err in denying Taxpayers' petition for judicial review and affirming the disallowance of Taxpayers' educational expense deduction?
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
¶4 Paula sought tax deductions for educational expenses incurred in pursuit of a doctoral degree in psychology. The Montana Department of Revenue (DOR) disallowed the deductions sought by Paula individually in 2007, and jointly with Randy in 2008 and 2009. DOR disallowed the deductions because the expenses did not meet the requirements of 26 C.F.R. § 1.162-5. Taxpayers appealed the DOR's decision to the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR). ODR affirmed the disallowance on September 21, 2011. Taxpayers appealed the ODR's decision to the State Tax Appeal Board (STAB). After holding a hearing on March 7, 2012, STAB issued its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and opportunity for judicial review order upholding the disallowance on March 23, 2012.
¶5 Taxpayers sought judicial review of STAB's decision in Montana's Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County. The District Court denied Taxpayers' petition for judicial review in an order dated September 11, 2012. Taxpayers appeal.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
¶6 A district court reviews a STAB decision to determine whether STAB's findings of fact are clearly erroneous and whether STAB correctly interpreted the law. Robison v. Mont. Dep't of Revenue, 2012 MT 145, ¶ 10, 365 Mont. 336, 281 P.3d 218; Puget SoundEnergy, Inc. v. State, 2011 MT 141, ¶ 14, 361 Mont. 39, 255 P.3d 171. This Court applies the same standards of review when reviewing a district ...