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Three Fountains Cooperative, Inc. v. O'Connor

Tax Court of Indiana

January 20, 2015

THREE FOUNTAINS COOPERATIVE, INC., Petitioner,
v.
JOSEPH P. O'CONNOR, MARION COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.

ORDER ON RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

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

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Martha Blood Wentworth Judge

Joseph P. O'Connor in his official capacity as the Marion County Assessor has moved to dismiss Three Fountains 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, Three Fountains 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 158-286.) The Marion County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) granted Three Fountains' 2005 exemption application. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 154-57.) Three Fountains' property remained exempt from property tax for the next four years. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 325-44.)

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 Three Fountains'. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 601-02, 610-11.) On January 31, 2011, the PTABOA sent Three Fountains a letter requesting that it complete a four-page worksheet "to help [the PTABOA] better understand the services [that Three Fountains] provides to [its] tenants." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 345-51.) The PTABOA explained that it would use the worksheet to review Three Fountains' exemption status and that it may hold a hearing. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 345.) Three Fountains completed and returned the worksheet to the PTABOA as requested. On March 8, 2011, after conducting a hearing, the PTABOA revoked Three Fountains' exemption for the 2010 tax year. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 352-61.)

On April 5, 2011, Three Fountains appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review, alleging that the PTABOA lacked the statutory authority to revoke Three Fountains' 2010 exemption. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 3-6, 9-10.) Alternatively, Three Fountains alleged that the PTABOA's exemption revocation was untimely and ignore the 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, Three Fountains 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 287-300.) On January 17, 2014, after conducting a hearing, the Indiana Board issued an order denying Three Fountains' Motion for Summary Judgment. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 434-45.)

On January 29, 2014, Three Fountains filed a Petition for Rehearing with the Indiana Board. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 446-53, 466-85.) The Indiana Board treated Three Fountains' Petition for Rehearing as a Motion to Reconsider and on April 24, 2014, affirmed its denial of Three Fountains' Motion for Summary Judgment. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 454-55, 488-99.) 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 488-99.)

On June 9, 2014, Three Fountains 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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