Attorney General: Honorable Allan A. Crystal, Department of Revenue Services, 1991-034 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

November 22, 1991

Honorable Allan A. Crystal
Department of Revenue Services
92 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105

Dear Commissioner Crystal:

By letter of December 19, 1990, CPI and its subsidiaries proposed a payment plan for all unpaid sales and use taxes owed through October 31, 1991. The Department of Revenue Services ("the Department") responded by letter of December 27, 1990 accepting a payment plan on the terms stated in the Department's letter and on the specific condition that current taxes must be filed and paid timely and that the agreement would be subject to review every six months. At some time after the payment plan was initiated, the Department reported CPI's delinquency to the Comptroller pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-39g which provides as follows.

Upon notification to the comptroller by the commissioner of revenue services that any taxes, including penalties and interest related thereto, are due to the state from any person, the comptroller shall withhold any order upon the treasurer for payment of any amount payable by the state to such person unless the amount so payable is reduced by the amount of such taxes, penalties and interest, provided any such amount payable by the state shall not be so reduced if (1) such amount payable is a payment of salary or wages, or any payment in lieu of or in addition to such salary or wages, to a state employee, (2) such taxes, penalties and interest have been fixed by said commissioner pursuant to a request within the time allowed under this title to correct the amount thereof or (3) such taxes, penalties and interest have been determined by said commissioner to be due and such determination is the subject of an appeal pending before any court in this state. The comptroller shall promptly notify the commissioner of revenue services of any payment reduced under the provisions of this section.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-39g (Emphasis added).

In accordance with this provision, the Comptroller intercepted funds owing to CPI under contracts with the State. CPI has protested that such action was not in accordance with the agreement embodied in its payment plan.

It has been suggested that the Department lacks discretion in this matter and that under section 12-39g it must report all delinquent taxpayers to the Comptroller regardless of any agreement for payment. Upon examination of the statute, however, it would appear that when alternative means of payment have been accepted by the Department and the taxpayer is not in default under its agreement, the Department is not required to notify the Comptroller that taxes "are due to the state."

It is a cardinal rule of construction that statutes must be construed to give effect to the intent of the legislature, State v. Parmalee , 197 Conn. 158, 161, 496 A.2d 186 (1985) quoting, State v. Campbell, 180 Conn. 557, 561, 429 A.2d 960 (1980), and where the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, legislative intent is determined from the language of the act alone. Beloff v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., 203 Conn. 45, 54, 523 A.2d 477 (1987). Moreover, words and phrases used in a statute must be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning unless their context dictates otherwise. Kilpatrick v. Board of Education, 206 Conn. 25, 28, 535 A.2d 1311 (1988); State v. Bruney, 189 Conn. 321, 326,455 A.2d 1335 (1983); Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-1(a).

The key issue in applying section 12-39g in this instance is whether taxes are in fact "due" within the meaning of the statute. In its common ordinary meaning the term "due" means "payable immediately or on demand." It is payable in accordance with the agreement of the parties. Accordingly, Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-39g does not require the Department to notify the Comptroller that taxes "are due to the state" from a taxpayer which is complying with a payment plan.

Very truly yours,

Aaron S. Bayer
Deputy Attorney General

ASB/JGH/rmj


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