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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:James Howard Myers was one of two officers of a club that obtained permits from the state to serve alcohol. The tax code required a mixed-beverage “permittee” to pay taxes on the sale of alcohol. Myers admitted that he was an agent of the club but argued that, under the tax code, “permittee” referred only to the permit holder and not to its agents. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the State and entered a judgment against Myers and another club officer in the amount of the tax due, including interest and penalties, plus attorneys’ fees. Myers appealed and at issue on appeal was whether Meyers, as the agent of a club holding a mixed beverage permit, was liable for mixed-beverage taxes assessed by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. HOLDING:The court reverses the trial court’s judgment and remands for further proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion. Texas Tax Code Ann. 183.021 imposes a tax on the gross receipts a permittee receives from the sale of mixed beverages. In addition, a permittee is required to file a tax return stating its total gross receipts and to pay the Comptroller the amount due. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 1.04(11) defines permittee as “a person who is the holder of a permit provided for in this code, or an agent, servant, or employee of that person.” Myers argues that the tax code’s definition of permittee in 183.001(b)(1), which does not mention agents, is controlling because it is the more specific definition of a permittee. In considering the entire statute, the court finds that the two definitions of permittee incorporated into the tax code � the definition from the alcoholic beverage code and the tax code’s additional definition � are inconsistent. The court finds that the definition of permittee in the tax code does not unambiguously define who may be held liable for the mixed-beverage tax. Therefore, the court refers to the comptroller’s rule concerning administration of the mixed-beverage tax, which states that only the permit holder may be liable for the tax. The court holds that the comptroller has urged a definition of a permittee that conflicts with one of its own rules concerning the tax administration of the mixed-beverage tax, 34 Texas Administrative Code 3.1001(a)(6). The court holds that the administrative rule contains an unambiguous definition of permittee that does not include agents. Therefore, the court defers to the comptroller’s rule concerning who may be assessed the mixed-beverage tax. The court holds that the assessment of the tax against Myers, as agent of a permit holder, conflicts with the rule. Additionally, considering that ambiguous tax statutes are construed in favor of the taxpayer, and applying the unambiguous language of the Comptroller’s rule, the court holds that Myers, as an agent of a permit holder, is not a holder subject to the tax imposed on mixed-beverage permittees. OPINION:Smith, J.; Law, C.J., Smith and Puryear, JJ.

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