Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Submitted on Briefs February 13, 2012. Decided May 10, 2012. OPINION BY Judge McGINLEY.
Marie Himmelberger (Appellant), Executrix of the Estate of Sharon Warnock (Decedent), disputes an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County (common pleas court) that sustained the Notice of Inheritance Tax Appraisement, Allowance or Disallowance of Deductions and Assessment of Tax issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (Revenue), Department of Individual Taxes, Inheritance Tax Division.
Appellant and Revenue stipulated to the following:1. … Decedent and … Appellant, while residents of the State of New Jersey, entered into a New Jersey Civil Union on March 8, 2007.2. Decedent died testate February 25, 2010, a resident of Berks County, Pennsylvania.3. Decedent’s Last Will and Testament, executed July 15, 2008, appointed Appellant executrix of the estate.4. Appellant was also a designated beneficiary under the Will of certain estate assets.5. Letters Testamentary were granted March 3, 2010.6. On August 31, 2010, Appellant, acting as executrix, filed a Resident Decedent Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return with the Office of the Register of Wills, Berks County, Pennsylvania, and paid the sum of $17,010.41 toward the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax due.7. The Inheritance Tax Return as filed identified Appellant as a Civil Union Partner of Decedent. (emphasis added).8. The Inheritance Tax Return as filed valued the estate assets to be received by Appellant as beneficiary at $604,179.25. (emphasis added).9. The Inheritance Tax Return as filed assessed the inheritance tax due on the estate assets received by Appellant at zero (0) percent tax rate. (emphasis added).10. The Inheritance Tax return as filed claimed a Family Exemption of $3,500.00 on behalf of Appellant. (emphasis added).11. On February 7, 2011, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Revenue, Bureau of Individual Taxes, Inheritance Tax Division issued a Notice of Inheritance Tax Appraisement, Allowance or Disallowance of Deductions and Assessment of Tax.12. The Notice assessed the Inheritance Tax due on the value of the assets received from the estate by Appellant at the collateral rate of 15%. (emphasis added).13. The Notice denied a deduction to the estate on behalf of a family exemption claimed under the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code. (emphasis added).14. The Notice claimed the sum of $91,528.42 was due as additional tax as of February 22, 2011. (emphasis added).
Stipulation of Facts, June 1, 2011, Paragraphs 1-14 at 1-2; Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 79a.
The common pleas court sustained Revenue’s Notice of Inheritance Tax Appraisement, Allowance or Disallowance of Deductions and Assessment of Tax and concluded that “Appellant is not a child, parent, or spouse of the decedent, and further, there is no legitimate reason to apply New Jersey law or treat Appellant any differently than any other member of the non-familial class of survivor.” Opinion of the Common Pleas Court, September 28, 2011, at 13.
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