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Monday, November 02, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Tax Court posts two today, filed Oct. 30

In Washington Township Assessor, Allen County Assessor, and Allen County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals v. Verizon Data Services, Inc., a 13-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:

The Washington Township Assessor, the Allen County Assessor, and the Allen County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (collectively Allen County) claim that the Indiana Board of Tax Review erred in granting summary judgment to Verizon Data Services, Inc. because the Allen County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) failed to issue its final determination within the statutorily prescribed period. Upon review, the Court finds that the Indiana Board did not err. * * *

While Allen County’s bright-line distinction that Section 15-1 applies to the PTABOA’s appeals process and Chapter 16 applies to the PTABOA’s assessment process would allow an assessing official to make full use of the deadlines in each, this distinction contravenes the distinct purposes of Section 15-1 and Chapter 16. * * *

Thus, to the extent the deadlines under Section 15-1 and Chapter 16 conflict, Chapter 16 governs because it applies specifically to appeals of an assessing official’s change to a personal property assessment; whereas, Section 15-1 applies generally to appeals concerning real and personal property assessments. See Componx, 741 N.E.2d at 446. This conclusion gives effect to the importance that the Legislature has placed on assessing officials’ compliance with Chapter 16’s statutory deadlines. See I.C. §§ 6-1.1-16-1(b), -2 (providing that when assessing officials fail to act within the statutorily prescribed periods, the assessed value reported on a taxpayer’s personal property return prevails). Accordingly, the Chapter 16 deadlines applied to require the PTABOA to issue its final determination by October 30, 2005, which it did not.

In Allen County Assessor v. Verizon Data Services, Inc., an 11-page opinion, Judge Wentworth writes:
The Allen County Assessor claims that the Indiana Board of Tax Review erred in granting Verizon Data Services, Inc.’s motion for summary judgment and denying the Assessor’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Upon review, the Court finds that the Indiana Board did not err. * * *

On appeal, the Assessor claims that the Indiana Board’s final determination must be reversed because it erred in determining that the Chapter 16 rather than the Section 15-1 deadlines governed the PTABOA’s appeals process. (See Pet’r Br. Supp. V. Pet. Judicial Review Final Determination [Indiana Board] (“Pet’r Br.”) at 7-8.) Alternatively, the Assessor claims that the Chapter 16 deadlines should not be enforced because Verizon waived its right to invoke the deadlines and failed to show that it suffered any prejudice. (See Pet’r Br. at 8-13.) Moreover, the Assessor claims that Indiana case law indicates that the merits should be reached and that Verizon’s Form 131 was timely filed because it misinterpreted Sections 15-1 and 15-3. (See Pet’r Br. at 10-11, 13-17.)

In a companion case issued concurrently with this decision, the Court has held that for purposes of personal property, the Chapter 16 deadlines applied not only to the assessment process, but also to the appeals process. See Washington Twp. Assessor v. Verizon Data Servs., Inc. (Verizon I), No. 49T10-1102-TA-00013, slip op. at 4-10 (Ind. Tax Ct. Oct. 30, 2015).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 2, 2015 11:01 AM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions