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West Ohio II, LLC v. Marion County Assessor

Tax Court of Indiana

May 9, 2014

WEST OHIO II, LLC, Petitioner,
v.
MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR, MARION COUNTY TREASURER, and MARION COUNTY AUDITOR, Respondents

ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONER: JEFFREY T. BENNETT, BRADLEY D. HASLER, BINGHAM GREENEBAUM DOLL LLP, Indianapolis, IN.

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENTS: JOHN C. SLATTEN, MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR'S OFFICE, Indianapolis, IN; DAVID J. LICHTENBERGER, OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL, Indianapolis, IN.

ORDER ON PETITIONER'S AMENDED PETITION TO ENJOIN COLLECTION OF TAX AND RESPONDENTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

Martha Blood Wentworth, Judge.

Come now the parties, West Ohio II, LLC having filed an Amended Petition to Enjoin Collection of Tax (Petition) and the Marion County Assessor, Treasurer, and Auditor (collectively " Marion County" ) having filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Motion). The Court, being duly advised in all matters, grants Marion County's Motion.

Page 268

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

West Ohio owns a multi-tenant office building and parking garage in Indianapolis, Indiana. For the March 1, 2013 assessment, West Ohio's property was valued at $39,314,000. Believing that its property was substantially overvalued, West Ohio appealed the assessment on May 8, 2013, with the Marion County Assessor. West Ohio provided the Assessor with a market value-in-use appraisal of its property to support its position.

As of April 14, 2014, the Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) had yet to schedule a hearing on West Ohio's appeal. Consequently, West Ohio filed its Petition asking this Court to enjoin the collection of property taxes related to the disputed portion of its $39,314,000 assessment. Marion County subsequently filed its Motion, asserting that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Court conducted a hearing on May 8, 2014. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

LAW

Subject matter jurisdiction can only be conferred upon a court by the Indiana Constitution or by statute. State v. Sproles, 672 N.E.2d 1353, 1356 (Ind. 1996). " 'Jurisdiction of the subject matter involves the POWER of the court to hear and determine a general class of cases to which the proceedings belong.'" Harlan Sprague Dawley, Inc. v. Indiana Dep't of State Revenue, 583 N.E.2d 214, 216 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1991) (footnote and citation omitted).

Indiana Code § 33-26-3 confers upon this Court exclusive jurisdiction over " original tax appeals." Ind. Code § § 33-26-3-1, -3 (2014). An original tax appeal is a case that 1) arises under Indiana's tax laws and 2) is an initial appeal of a final determination of either the Indiana Department of State Revenue or the Indiana Board of Tax Review. I.C. § 33-26-3-1. Thus, for the Tax Court to possess subject matter jurisdiction over a case, two requirements must be met: 1) the case must arise under Indiana's tax laws, and 2) the case must appeal a final determination of either the Department or the Indiana Board. See Sproles, 672 N.E.2d at 1356-57.

A separate section within the Court's enabling statutes provides that " [a] taxpayer who wishes to enjoin the collection of a tax pending the original tax appeal must file a petition with the tax court to enjoin collection of the tax." Ind. Code § 33-26-6-2(b) (2014). " The petition must set forth a summary of: (1) the issues that the petitioner will raise in the original tax appeal; and (2) the equitable considerations for which the tax court should order the collection of the tax to be enjoined." Id. The Court may enjoin the collection of the tax if, after conducting a hearing, it finds " (1) the issues raised by the original tax appeal are substantial; (2) the petitioner has a reasonable opportunity to prevail in the original tax appeal; and (3) the equitable considerations favoring the enjoining of the collection of the tax outweigh the state's interest in collecting the tax pending the original tax appeal." I.C. § 33-26-6-2(c).

ANALYSIS

In its Petition, West Ohio acknowledges that it has not yet received a final determination from the Indiana Board. (See Pet'r Am. Pet. ΒΆ 5; Pet'r Br. Supp. Am. Pet. Enjoin Collection Tax at 1.) Accordingly, West Ohio admits that its case is not yet ripe to file a petition for an original tax appeal. (See Pet'r Br. Supp. Am. ...


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