Court tosses property assessment suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Tax Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's property tax assessment system because the petitioning taxpayers didn't exhaust their administrative options.

Indiana Tax Judge Thomas G. Fisher ruled Nov. 9 in Mel Goldstein, et al. v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, et al., No. 49T10-0709-TA-45, which was brought by 14 taxpayers and 10 citizen groups from across the state.

Indianapolis attorney John Price filed the suit in September on behalf taxpayers statewide pushing for tax reform, and Judge Fisher heard arguments Oct. 31. The suit included counts relating directly to Marion County and the recently passed income-tax increase and property-tax refunds, while the others focus on tax-rate equality and assessment practices statewide.

In his ruling, the judge said petitioners didn't meet the requirements for the appeals court to have jurisdiction. One is that a case must arise under the state's tax laws, while the second is that the suit appeals a final determination of either the Department of Revenue or Board of Tax Review.

But that didn't happen, and Judge Fisher wrote in a footnote that only two of the total 24 petitioners started the administrative appeals process. He said that amounts to "a failure to exhaust administrative remedies" that deprives the Tax Court of subject matter in a case.

While petitioners conceded they hadn't exhausted all the options administratively, Price argued that a past Indiana Supreme Court decision allows the tax appeals court to take on this case anyhow because it involves an issue of significant public interest.

Judge Fisher declined to accept that invitation.

"This Court is acutely aware of the public's discontent with the purported inadequacies of Indiana's property assessment and taxation system," he wrote. "What the Petitioners are asking the Court to do, however, is to create and confer upon itself subject matter jurisdiction where subject matter jurisdiction does not exist. This the Court cannot do."

Though he dismissed the suit, Judge Fisher also noted in a final footnote of the ruling that the petitioners can still have a day in court if they go through their administrative remedies.

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  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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