Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Board Finds Petitioner Failed to Show Back Taxes and Penalties Improperly Assessed Where Both Parties Agreed Property Not Entitled to Homestead Deduction

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

c) Here, the subject property received the homestead standard deduction for the 2010 and 2011 tax years. The parties agree that the subject property was not the Petitioner’s homestead and therefore did not qualify for the homestead standard deduction. Because the property did not qualify for the deduction, the County Auditor was within his or her authority, under Ind. Code § 6-1.1-12-37(f), to remove the deduction and bill the Petitioner for the taxes that would have been owed if no error existed. Whether the Petitioner actually filed for the deduction has no bearing on the County Auditor’s authority to correct the error.

d) As for the penalty imposed by the county, the Board lacks the authority to address the Petitioner’s claim. The Board is a creation of the legislature, and it has only those powers conferred by statute. Matonovich v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 705 N.E.2d 1093, 1096 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1999). The relevant statute reads:

(a) The Indiana board shall conduct an impartial review of all appeals concerning:
(1) the assessed valuation of tangible property;
(2) property tax deductions;
(3) property tax exemptions;
(4) property tax credits;
that are made from a determination by an assessing official or county property tax assessment board of appeals to the Indiana board under any law.
(b) Appeals described in this section shall be conducted under IC 6-1.1-15.

Ind. Code § 6-1.5-4-1.

e) The Tax Court has held the Board’s enabling statute “did not grant any power to the State Board to review penalties imposed by the County for the late payment of property taxes,” because it contemplated only a review of assessments, deductions, exemptions, and credits.  Whetzel, 761 N.E.2d 904.

f) Given the clear language of Whetzel, the Board lacks the subject matter jurisdiction to afford the Petitioner relief with regards to the penalties attached to his bill for back taxes.

g) The Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case for striking his bill for back taxes owed and for removing the penalties imposed with that bill.