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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides property tax case today

In Wayne County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals v. United Ancient Order of Druids-Grove #29, an 8-page opinion, Justice Boehm writes:

We hold that Indiana Tax Court Rule 3 and the provisions of the Administrative Orders and Procedures Act (“AOPA”) governing the timing for filing the agency record in appeals of property tax assessments do not conflict. AOPA provides that filing of the record to permit judicial review of an agency action is timely if, among other things, the court allows an extension of the time provided by AOPA. We conclude that a filing in compliance with Tax Court Rule 3 is within “further time allowed by the court” as AOPA contemplates. * * *

Conclusion. The order of the Tax Court is affirmed. This case is remanded for resolution on the merits.

This discussion of court rules vs administrative rules is interesting:
The Taxation Section of the Indiana Bar Association, as amicus curiae, argues that Rule 3(E) is “other law,” allowing additional time to file the record. This contention proceeds from the generally valid premise that rules of this Court have the force and effect of law and are binding upon courts and parties. This Court is empowered to adopt rules of procedure for all Indiana courts, including the Tax Court. See I.C. § 34-8-1-3 (“The supreme court has authority to adopt, amend, and rescind rules of court that govern and control practice and procedure in all the courts of Indiana”). Although rules of court may be “law” for many purposes, the definitions section of AOPA, Indiana Code section 4-21.5-1-7, defines “law” as “the federal or state constitution, any federal or state statute, a rule of an agency, or a federal regulation.” Rules of a court, including Rule 3(E), are not any of these, so we do not agree that the “other law” provision accomplishes what the amicus argues.

Although we do not find the “other law” provision to encompass court rules, we also do not believe that by its statutory definition of “other law,” the General Assembly intended to preclude a court promulgated rule from providing time in addition to that afforded by AOPA. AOPA provides a set of default procedural rules applicable to judicial review of a wide variety of administrative actions. AOPA’s provision for “other law” in section 13 recognizes that there may be a need to tailor the default rules to meet the need of a particular administrative agency. Similarly, the statute expressly authorizes the reviewing court to extend its time limits. A filing is timely if within the “further time allowed by the court.” We see no reason why “further time” could not be “allowed” by rule applicable to categories of cases, given that it can be done by order in individual cases. [some citations omitted]

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 18, 2006 11:36 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions