Indiana Tax Judge Martha Wentworth denied the Marion County assessor’s motion to dismiss two petitioners' original tax appeal, finding the parties properly served a copy of the petition with the attorney general’s office.
Jaklin Idris and Dariana Kamenova wanted to appeal the Indiana Board of Tax Review’s final determination in which it upheld the 2006 assessment of Idris’ and Kamenova’s real property. Idris went to the Tax Court clerk’s office and provided the clerk with four copies of a notice of claim and two copies of a notice of appearance. The clerk’s office sent the information to the Board of Tax Review and the attorney general instead of Idris personally mailing or delivering them.
The Marion County assessor argues that Idris didn’t comply with Indiana Code 6-1.1-15-5(b)(2) and Tax Court Rule 16(C) because the clerk served a copy of the petition on the AG’s office but Idris was required to do so.
The plain language of I.C. 6-1.1-15-5(b)(2)(B) is silent as to how a party is to serve the attorney general. Wentworth interpreted the statute’s silence to mean that it does not matter how service is accomplished, as long as it is made.
Under Tax Court Rule 16, the attorney general must be served “by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.” Wentworth wrote that the purpose of this rule is to ensure that there is evidence of service and receipt, and the evidence in the instant case shows that the assessor’s office and AG’s office both received and acknowledged the petition filed by Idris.
“Idris’s reliance on the Clerk as the means to effect service did not run afoul of statutory requirements for initiating an original tax appeal under Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-5 because that statute recites no preference for any particular method of service,” Wentworth wrote in Jaklin Idris and Dariana Kamenova v. Marion County Assessor, No. 49T10-1108-TA-49.
“Moreover, while Idris’s method of service admittedly did not comply with Tax Court Rule 16(C), it was consistent with the spirit and purpose of the rule. Finally, the Court’s conclusion is consistent with its prior decisions that reasoned that the decisive inquiry for proper service is whether the documents to be served were timely mailed, not who mailed them.”