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Tell It to the Judge: No Right to Jury Trial in State Income Tax Refund Action

In the bad old days, taxes were assessed by individual tax collectors with the power to seize property. The only good part was that jury trials were available at common law in actions against tax collectors to recover illegally collected taxes. But once federal tax collectors started transferring tax receipts to the U.S. treasury, and the common law action was replaced by a statutory action, the right to a jury trial disappeared for federal tax refund actions. The California Supreme Court has just decided to follow the federal lead and has held that there is no constitutional right to a jury trial in state tax refund actions.