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Harvard Square Cooperative, Inc. v. O'Connor

Tax Court of Indiana

January 20, 2015

HARVARD SQUARE COOPERATIVE, INC., Petitioner,
v.
JOSEPH P. O'CONNOR, MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.

ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONER: JAMES F. BEATTY JESSICA L. FINDLEY DONALD D. LEVENHAGEN KATHRYN MERRITT-THRASHER MEGAN M. PIAZZA LANDMAN BEATTY, LAWYERS Indianapolis, IN

ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENT: JOHN C. SLATTEN MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR’S OFFICE Indianapolis, IN

ORDER ON RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

MEMORANDUM DECISION

MARTHA BLOOD WENTWORTH JUDGE

Joseph P. O'Connor in his official capacity as the Marion County Assessor has moved to dismiss Harvard Square Cooperative, Inc.'s appeal, claiming that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The Court grants the Assessor's motion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The events giving rise to this matter commenced several years ago. On April 22, 2005, Harvard Square filed an Application for Property Tax Exemption with the Assessor, claiming that its 342-unit multi-family cooperative apartment complex and personal property were exempt from property taxation because they were owned, occupied, and exclusively used for the charitable purpose of providing affordable housing to low-income persons. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 224-327.) The Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) granted Harvard Square's exemption application. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 210-19.) Harvard Square's property remained exempt from property tax for the next four years. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 366-95.)

In 2009, this Court issued a decision in which it held that the provision of affordable housing to low-income persons was not a per se charitable purpose. See Jamestown Homes of Mishawaka, Inc. v. St. Joseph Cnty. Assessor, 909 N.E.2d 1138, 1144 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2009), review denied. As a result, the PTABOA questioned several of its prior exemption determinations, including Harvard Square's. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 662-63, 671-72.) On January 31, 2011, the PTABOA sent Harvard Square a letter requesting that it complete a four-page worksheet "to help [the PTABOA] better understand the services [that Harvard Square] provides to [its] tenants." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 396-402.) The PTABOA explained that it would use the worksheet to review Harvard Square's exemption status and that it may hold a hearing. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 396.) Harvard Square completed and returned the worksheet to the PTABOA as requested. On March 8, 2011, after conducting a hearing, the PTABOA revoked Harvard Square's exemption for the 2010 tax year. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 403-16.)

On April 5, 2011, Harvard Square appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review, alleging that the PTABOA lacked the statutory authority to revoke its 2010 exemption. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 3-6, 9-10.) Alternatively, Harvard Square alleged that the PTABOA's exemption revocation was untimely and ignored that fact that its property had been owned, occupied, and exclusively used for charitable purposes since 2005. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 10-14.) On September 16, 2011, Harvard Square filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that the PTABOA's unilateral revocation of its exemption was improper not only because it lacked the statutory authority to do so but also because it was untimely. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 328-42.) On January 17, 2014, after conducting a hearing, the Indiana Board issued an order denying Harvard Square's Motion for Summary Judgment. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 496-507.)

On January 29, 2014, Harvard Square filed a Petition for Rehearing with the Indiana Board. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 508-15, 528-50.) The Indiana Board treated Harvard Square's Petition for Rehearing as a Motion to Reconsider and on April 24, 2014, affirmed its denial of Harvard Square's Motion for Summary Judgment. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 516-17, 553-64.) The Indiana Board explained that Indiana Code § 6-1.1-11-1 et seq. authorized the PTABOA's exemption revocation and that the revocation was both timely and in compliance with all applicable notice requirements. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 553-64.)

On June 9, 2014, Harvard Square appealed to this Court. On August 15, 2014, the Assessor filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. The Court held a hearing on October 29, 2014.[1] Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When this Court rules on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, it may consider the petition, the motion, and any supporting affidavits or evidence. Garwood v. Indiana Dep't of State Revenue, 998 N.E.2d 314, 317 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2013). The Court may also weigh the evidence to determine the existence of requisite jurisdictional facts, resolve factual ...


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