PETITIONER APPEARING PRO SE:
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
MICHAEL W. WILDT
New Albany, Indiana
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
TED J. HOLADAY
Deputy Attorney General
INDIANA TAX COURT
MICHAEL W. WILDT, )
v. ) Cause No. 39T10-0003-TA-34
STATE BOARD OF TAX )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE
STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
February 13, 2001
The petitioner, Michael W. Wildt (Wildt), appeals the final determination of the State
Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) for the 1998 tax year, finding that
Wildt did not timely file his Form 131 Petition for Review of Assessment
(Form 131 petition). Thus, the State Board did not address the merits
of Wildts Form 131 petition. Wildt raises the following issue for this
Courts review: Whether the State Board erred when it failed to consider
the merits of Wildts Form 131 petition. For the reasons explained below,
the Court finds in favor of the State Board.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Wildt owns a parcel of property located in Floyd County, Indiana. On
April 30, 1999, Wildt filed a Form 130 petition with the Floyd County
Assessors office, seeking various corrections with regard to the property. On August
26, 1999, the Floyd County Board of Review (BOR) issued its final determination,
granting some of the relief Wildt sought. Thereafter, on October 8, 1999,
Wildt, apparently believing he had until October 10
to file his Form 131
petition with the Floyd County Assessor, faxed a request to the Floyd County
Assessor asking for additional time in which to file his Form 131 petition.
Shortly thereafter, Wildt received a response from Mr. Chuck Simon, President of
the BOR, in which Mr. Simon granted Widlt an extension of time until
October 29 in which to file his Form 131 petition. Wildt then
filed his Form 131 petition with the Floyd County Assessor on October 28,
The State Board sent Wildt a Notice of Defect on December 1, 1999,
claiming that the original Form 130 petition was not attached to the Form
131 petition and that the Form 131 petition was untimely filed. Wildt
was given thirty days, per Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-4(b) (West 2000), to
correct the defect and to provide any additional evidence supporting his reasons for
the untimely filing.
On December 29, 1999, Wildt filed his corrected Form 131 petition with the
State Board. On February 15, 2000, the State Board issued its final
determination, declining to consider the merits of Wildts Form 131 petition due to
its untimely filing. On March 1, 2000, Wildt filed a request for
rehearing with the State Board, which was denied on March 14, 2000.
Wildt then filed this original tax appeal on March 30, 2000. The
Court held a hearing in this case on November 9, 2000. Additional
facts will be supplied where necessary.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
The Court gives great deference to the State Boards final determinations when the
State Board acts within the scope of its authority. Bernacchi v. State
Bd. of Tax Commrs, 727 N.E.2d 1133, 1135 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000).
Accordingly, this Court reverses final determinations of the State Board only when those
decisions are unsupported by substantial evidence, are arbitrary or capricious, constitute an abuse
of discretion, or exceed statutory authority. Id.
As noted above, the State Board did not address the merits of Wildts
resubmitted Form 131 petition following the notice of defect because the original Form
131 petition was late-filed. Statutory words are to be given their plain,
ordinary, and usual meaning unless the legislature's intent reveals a contrary purpose.
Monarch Steel, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 611 N.E.2d 708, 713
(Ind. Tax Ct. 1993). Therefore, the court is required, to the greatest
extent possible, to give each word in a statute its full effect.
Id. The Court should give words their common and ordinary meaning without
over-emphasizing a strict literal or selective reading of individual words. Sangralea Boys
Fund, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 686 N.E.2d 954, 956 (Ind.
Tax Ct. 1997). The Court assumes the legislature meant what it said.
Hyatt Corp. v. Department of State Revenue, 695 N.E.2d 1051, 1053 (Ind.
Tax Ct. 1998).
Because the legislature has created specific appeal procedures by which to challenge assessments,
a taxpayer must comply with the statutory requirements of filing the proper petitions
within a timely manner. Williams Indus. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs,
648 N.E.2d 713, 718 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995). This Court has stated
that, A taxpayers failure to comply with the terms of the statute is
not . . . the fault of the State Board. Reams v.
State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 620 N.E.2d 758, 760 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1993).
Cf. Sherry Designs v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 589 N.E.2d 285,
286 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1992) (internal quotations and citations omitted.) (A taxpayer who
skips a procedural step on the exclusive path to the courthouse door, is
locked out of the [ ] forum.).
In order to obtain State Board review of an assessment, a party must
file a petition for review with the county assessor within thirty days after
a BORs decision. Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-3(c); see also Ind. Admin.
Code tit. 50, r. 4.2-3-3(c) (1996). The county assessor then forwards the
Form 131 petition to the State Board. Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-3(c).
The BOR issued its final determination on August 26, 1999. Wildt
then had up until and including September 25, 1999 to file his Form
131 petition. Wildt took no action until October 8, 1999, thirteen days
after the deadline, at which time he faxed a letter to the Floyd
County Assessors office requesting additional time in which to file his Form 131
petition. (Petr. Ex. 2.) The Court finds that Wildt failed to
timely file his Form 131 petition under Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-3(c).
The State Board correctly refused to address the merits of Wildts Form 131
For the reasons explained above, the Court finds that Wildt did not timely
file his Form 131 petition with the State Board. The Court AFFIRMS
the State Boards final determination.
The Court is unsure as to why Wildt believed he
had until October 10, 1999 to file his Form 131 petition under Ind.
Code Ann § 6-1.1-15-3(c) (West 2000), but this belief was wrong. In
his October 8, 1999 letter to Mr. Chuck Simon, president of the BOR,
Wildt stated that, I am also hereby requesting that my forty-five (45) day
appeal be extended to complete my state level appeal. (Petr. Ex. 2.)
The Court declines to address whether any exigent circumstances may have tolled
the statute in this case since Wildt did not make his request for
an extension of time until after the deadline had expired. Likewise, the
Court saves for another day the question of whether a county official may
grant an extension of the filing deadline.
However, in some cases, the State Board may review assessments
despite untimely filed petitions for review. Wetzel Enters. v. State Bd. of
Tax Commrs, 694 N.E.2d 1259, 1262 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). This may
be done because, subject to the limitations contained in Ind. Code Ann. §
6-1.1-14-11 (West 2000), the State Board may invoke its authority to review an
assessment sua sponte. Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-14-10 (West 2000); Wetzel
Enters., 694 N.E.2d at 1262. Since such review is at the
option of the State Board, a late-filed Form 131 petition does not necessarily
compel the exercise of such sua sponte review. Cf. State Bd. of
Tax Commrs v. New Energy Co., 585 N.E.2d 38, 40 (Ind. Ct. App.
1992)(Court held that the State Board had the authority but not the duty
under Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-12.1-5.5(a) (West 2000) to consider an untimely application
for deduction for new manufacturing equipment in an economic revitalization area) (emphasis added);
Graybar Elec. Co. v. State Bd. of Tax Comms, 723 N.E.2d 491, 493
& 496 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000) (holding that the State Board could consider,
but did not necessarily have to grant, an untimely Enterprise Zone Business Personal
Property Tax Credit application under Ind. Code Ann. § 6.1.1-20.8-2 (West 2000)).
The Court acknowledges Wildts frustration with the events surrounding this
case and notes his concerted effort to present his case at the hearing.
Todays decision can only add to such frustration. However, the statute
must be followed. Failure to do so results in cases such as