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Mekko Miller & Elaine Suazo

02/09/2010

10-01

The Taxpayers were married in September, 2004.  For tax years 2004-2006, the Taxpayers filed joint federal income tax returns using an Albuquerque address.  The Taxpayers believed and claimed that they were entitled to the exemption from payment of New Mexico State Income Taxes for tax years 2004-2006 under Section 7-2-5.5 NMSA 1978, which exempts “earnings by Indians, their Indian spouses and Indian dependants on Indian lands.”  At the hearing, the Taxpayers conceded that Mrs. Suazo-Miller was not entitled to the exemption as she was living in Albuquerque during the years in question.  Mr. Miller is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Tesuque and was employed as the Pueblo’s legal counsel during the tax years in question.  There is not evidence that any money was withheld or that he made any direct payment of New Mexico State Personal Income Tax in any of those years.  The Taxpayer testified that during the 2004-2006 tax years he resided primarily at real property given to him by his grandparents within the exterior boundaries of the Tesuque Pueblo.  The Taxpayer is registered to vote at this address.  The Taxpayers also rented an apartment in Albuquerque in the years 2004-2006 so that Mrs. Suazo-Miller could attend the University of New Mexico and work in Albuquerque.  Mr. Miller would spend weekends at the apartment with his wife until they separated for several years beginning in 2005.  The Taxpayers registered their automobiles at the address of their Albuquerque apartment.   They testified that this was done by the car dealer as a matter of convenience.   In 2008, the Governor of the Pueblo of Tesuque wrote a letter to the Taxpayer informing him that it appeared he was subject to state income tax withholding for that year and the years prior as he was not residing at his property on the Pueblo.  That letter required that the Taxpayer submit documentation substantiating his address on pueblo land by a given deadline. When the Taxpayer did not comply with the request, the Governor of the Pueblo of Tesuque sent a letter to the Secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department informing him that the Taxpayer had potentially misused the exemption.  The Department looked into the matter and subsequently issued Notices of Assessment for each of the tax years in question.  The Taxpayers filed a protest to each assessment.  The Taxpayers were unable to demonstrate that Mr. Miller resided within the boundaries of the Tesuque Pueblo in 2004, 2005 and 2006.  The Taxpayers’ protest was denied.?