ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
TIMOTHY E. PETERSON STEVE CARTER
ATTORNEY AT LAW ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
Indianapolis, IN Indianapolis, IN
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
IN THE INDIANA TAX COURT _____________________________________________________________________
INDIANA C.A.P. DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION, ) NOW KNOWN AS THE INDIANA ) COMMUNITY ACTION ASSOCIATION, INC., ) Petitioner, ) ) v. ) Cause No. 49T10-0004-TA-36 ) DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL ) GOVERNMENT FINANCE,See footnote )
Ind. Code § 6-1.1-11-3(a). In turn, Indiana Code § 6-1.1-11-3.5(a) provides:
A not-for-profit corporation that seeks an exemption . . . for 1988 or for a year that follows 1988 by a multiple of four (4) years must file an application for the exemption in that year. However, if a not-for-profit corporation seeks an exemption . . . for a year not specified in this subsection and the corporation did not receive the exemption for the preceding year, the corporation must file an application for the exemption in the year for which the exemption is sought. The not-for-profit corporation must file each exemption application in the manner (other than the requirement for filing annually) prescribed in section 3 of this chapter.
Ind. Code § 6-1.1-11-3.5(a) (emphasis added). Thus, under the plain meaning of
these statutes, when a non-profit taxpayer like CAP sought an exemption for the
1998 tax year (having not received the exemption the year before), it was
required to file the application by May 15, 1998.
Despite the unambiguous language of these statutes, CAP purports a different interpretation. More specifically, CAP argues that the language the corporation must file an application for the exemption in the year for which the exemption is sought as contained in Indiana Code § 6-1.1-11-3.5(a) means the application must be filed in the year the property taxes are due. Consequently, because Indiana property taxes are paid a year in arrears, CAP maintains that it had until May 15, 1999, to file its application. CAP is mistaken.
The foremost goal of statutory construction is to determine and give effect to the true intent of the legislature. Caylor-Nickel Clinic, P.C. v. Indiana Dep't of State Revenue, 569 N.E.2d 765, 768 (Ind. Tax. Ct. 1991) (citations omitted), affd, 587 N.E.2d 1311 (Ind. 1992). To determine the legislatures intent, the words of a statute must be read in their plain, ordinary, and usual sense. Id. Likewise, Indiana Code 6-1.1-11-3.5(a) should be construed in the proper context (i.e., within the context of Indianas property tax assessment/payment scheme). See id.
In Indiana, real property is assessed as of every March 1st. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-4-4. However, property taxes are paid in arrears; thus, taxes on property assessed as of March 1st are paid in two installments, May 10th and November 10th of the following year. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-22-9(a). Before the May 10th due date, a taxpayer receives a tax bill from its county treasurer. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-22-8. The tax bill indicates the amount of property taxes due taking into account all exemptions and deductions the taxpayer is entitled to receive.
If taxpayers file an application for exemption in the year the taxes are due, as CAP contends, they would be applying for tax exemptions after the tax had already been calculated and the tax notices sent. The tax notices, as issued, would then be incorrect. Thus, the Court reads the statutes as requiring the application to be filed in the year the property was assessed. In this way, the tax can be calculated accounting for the exemption and notice can be sent out prior to the first installment payment due date.
CAP, not having received a tax exemption for the previous year, filed its application seeking a tax exemption for the 1998 tax year on April 28, 1999. CAP was required to file its application by May 15, 1998. As a result, CAPs exemption application was properly denied.
In the alternative, CAP asserts that the PTABOA waived the timeliness issue when it denied the application on its merits. Accordingly, CAP contends it was denied due process when the issue of timeliness was raised sua sponte by the State Board at its administrative hearing. When a taxpayer petitions the State Board to review an assessment via a Form 131, the State Board may address and correct all errors, even those not raised in the taxpayers petition. Canal Realty-Indy Castor v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 744 N.E.2d 597, 604 (Ind. Tax. Ct. 2001) (citations omitted) (emphasis added). Thus, the State Board was within its authority to raise the issue of CAPs timeliness at the hearing.
If the State Board does address an error not originally raised by the taxpayer, due process requires that the taxpayer be given an opportunity to review and rebut the State Boards disposition of that issue. Id. Often times, it is not practical for the State Board to conduct another hearing; therefore, the taxpayer must be afforded an opportunity to respond to the State Board in this Court. See Wirth v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 613 N.E.2d 874, 879 (Ind. Tax. Ct. 1993). In the instant case, CAP was given an opportunity to fully address the issue of timeliness before this Court; consequently, its due process rights were not violated. See id.