Opinion:Harter Energy v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, 2021 OK CIV APP 12
Subject matter:Refund of gross production taxes paid on enhanced production from secondary recovery project. 
Date Decided:March 5, 2021
Trial Court:Oklahoma Tax Commission
Route to this Court:Order of Commission denying refund of gross production taxes; assigned to Court of Civil Appeals, Division I. 
Facts:Generally a 7% tax on production of oil and gas. One exception is the “incremental production exemption,” which exempts any additional production attributable to the injection well from the gross production tax for a period of up to five years. Taxpayer sought a refund under this exception. Facts indicate that an employee of tax commission helped taxpayer with the application and told him “everything should work out find” and “everything else looks great.” Hearing held in front of an ALJ (760 days after hearing was first requested) and ALJ denied refund under three-year statute of limitations. Also rejected taxpayer’s claim of equitable estoppel and due process violation. Commission affirmed. Taxpayer appealed. 
Standard of Review:Statutory construction presents issue of law reviewed de novo; review of order of Commission acting in its adjudicative capacity must be affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence supporting the factual bases of the order and the order is free of legal error. 
Analysis:68 O.S. Supp. 2014 § 227 provides for a three-year statute of limitation to seek a refund and because the more specific gross production tax statute does not the procedural mechanism of § 227 must be applied and so too must its time limits. With regard to taxpayer’s equitable estoppel argument, the exemption was available when the project was started and when it was completed and neither taxpayer nor operator timely sought the refund. Thus Court concluded equitable estoppel was not appropriate in this case. With regard to taxpayer’s due process argument, although the delay in the hearing was substantial in this case, the taxpayer was given notice and an opportunity to be heard, and thus, Court could find no constitutional violatkion. 
Vote:Prince, J. (author); Goree, P.J., Mitchell, J., concur. 
Other: Requested refund was in the amount of $435,277.96.