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Repeal of administrative code abolishes 3-year limit for filing petitions

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In a ruling that it conceded could “open the floodgates,” the Indiana Tax Court found neither state statute nor regulations provided any time limits for homeowners to file petitions to correct error on their property tax assessments.

The Tax Court reviewed the Petition to Correct Error Statute contained in Indiana Code 6-1.1-15-12 and discovered provisions that gave taxpayers three years to claim a refund had been removed.

In Joseph and Jeanne Hutcherson v. Robin L. Ward, Hamilton County Assessor, 49T10-1302-TA-10, the Tax Court denied the assessor’s motion to dismiss and urged the state to include time limitations in the petition statute.

The Hutchersons filed four petitions to correct error for the 2004 through 2007 tax years after they learned they had not been given their homestead deduction. Both the Hamilton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and the Indiana Board of Tax Review denied the petitions because the documents were filed after the three-year limit.

On appeals before the Tax Court, the county assessor argued the Hutchersons failed to timely file their petitions under the Petition to Correct Error Statute and the Refund Statute, Indiana Code 6-1.1-26.1.

The Tax Court found that when 50 Indiana Administrative Code 4.2-3.12, which promulgated a regulation interpreting the petition statute, was repealed, the time limitation was deleted. And none of the new regulations adopted in 2000 or 2009 included a specific time period for filing a petition to correct error.

Although the Refund Statute does impose a three-year limitation period for filing a claim for a refund, the Tax Court declined to stretch that provision into the petition statute.
 
“The Court is well aware that this decision has the potential to open the floodgates for petition to correct error appeals by finding, as it must, that no statutory or regulatory time limitation exists after April 1, 2000,” Judge Martha Blood Wentworth wrote. “Moreover, the Court strongly supports the important public policy favoring limitations of claims. … The Court ardently urges the Legislature or the Department of Local Government Finance to act with all haste to provide security against stale claims arising under Indiana Code 6-1.1-15-12.”

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