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Allen Cnty. Assessor v. Verizon Data Servs., Inc.

Tax Court of Indiana

October 30, 2015

ALLEN COUNTY ASSESSOR, Petitioner,
v.
VERIZON DATA SERVICES, INC., Respondent

ON APPEAL FROM THE FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW.

ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONER: MARK E. GIAQUINTA, MELANIE L. FARR, SARAH L. SCHREIBER, HALLER & COLVIN, P.C., Fort Wayne, IN.

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

OPINION

WENTWORTH, J.

The Allen County Assessor claims that the Indiana Board of Tax Review erred in granting Verizon Data Services, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment and denying the Assessor's cross-motion for summary judgment. Upon review, the Court finds that the Indiana Board did not err.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 15, 2007, Verizon filed its Business Tangible Personal Property Return with the Washington Township Assessor, reporting the assessed value of its personal property at $16,200,000 for the 2007 tax year. On September 17, 2007, the Township Assessor timely issued a Notice of Assessment/Change (Form 113/PP) to Verizon increasing the assessment to $50,261,538.

By letter dated October 9, 2007, Verizon initiated the administrative appeals process by asking the Township Assessor to schedule a meeting regarding the Form 113/PP. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 217.) On October 12, 2007, the secretary of Allen County's Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) sent the following e-mail to Verizon:

Please be advised, Washington Township will not be scheduling a meeting to discuss the 2007 personal property assessment for Verizon in Allen County. As you are aware, the 2005 & 2006[1] assessments are under appeal with the Indiana State Tax Board. Pending a determination regarding the 2005 & 2006 assessments, a meeting to discuss the 2007 assessment will be 'on hold'.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

(Cert. Admin. R. at 135 (footnote added).) Verizon did not respond to the e-mail. On December 28, 2010, the Indiana Board resolved Verizon's 2005 appeal.

On July 26, 2012, Verizon filed a " Request For Relief Pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-1.1-16-1" with the PTABOA, requesting that it issue a determination that the assessed value of Verizon's personal property was $16,200,000 for the 2007 tax year. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 222-24.) Verizon asserted that it was entitled to that valuation because its 2007 personal property return was in substantial compliance with the applicable statutes and regulations and the PTABOA had not changed its assessment before October 30, 2007, as was required by Indiana Code § 6-1.1-16-1(a)(2)(A). (See Cert. Admin. R. at 223.)

On July 30, 2012, before the PTABOA responded to its Request, Verizon filed a Petition for Review (Form 131) with the Indiana Board. On November 5, 2012, Verizon filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Assessor filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on January 9, 2013.[2] The Indiana Board held a hearing on June 12, 2013, during which Verizon claimed that its personal property should be assessed at $16,200,000 because the PTABOA failed to comply with the deadlines set forth in Indiana Code § § 6-1.1-16-1 to -4 (Chapter 16). (See Cert. Admin. R. at 148-55.) In response, the Assessor asserted that Verizon's motion should be denied because it had acquiesced to the delay and thus waived its right to have a PTABOA hearing within the statutorily prescribed period and had failed to show that it suffered any prejudice. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 114-18, 162-64, 177-78.) The Assessor also claimed that she was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Verizon's Form 131 was untimely filed pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-1 (Section 15-1) and § 6-1.1-15-3 (Section 15-3). (See Cert. Admin. R. at 109-14, 129-37, 157-64, 194-96.) On July 3, 2014, the Indiana Board granted Verizon's Motion for Summary Judgment and denied the Assessor's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.

On August 14, 2014, the Assessor initiated this original tax appeal. The Court heard oral argument on April 23, 2015. Additional ...


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