Indianapolis, Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
Indianapolis, Indiana


    IN THE INDIANA TAX COURT ________________________________________________________________

MICHAEL W. WILDT,                                                                     )
    Petitioner,                                                                            )
    v.                                                                                     )   Cause No. 39T10-0003-TA-34
STATE BOARD OF TAX                                                                         )
COMMISSIONERS,                                                                             )
    Respondent.                                                                            )    

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 Wildt’s Form 131 petition. Wildt raises the following issue for this Court’s review: Whether the State Board erred when it failed to consider the merits of Wildt’s Form 131 petition. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds in favor of the State Board.

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 Assessor’s 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 See footnote 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, 1999.
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 Wildt’s 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.
Standard of Review

The Court gives great deference to the State Board’s final determinations when the State Board acts within the scope of its authority. Bernacchi v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 Wildt’s 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 Comm’rs, 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 Comm’rs, 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 Comm’rs, 648 N.E.2d 713, 718 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995). This Court has stated that, “A taxpayer’s failure to comply with the terms of the statute is not . . . the fault of the State Board.” Reams v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 620 N.E.2d 758, 760 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1993). Cf. Sherry Designs v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 BOR’s 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 Assessor’s office requesting additional time in which to file his Form 131 petition. (Pet’r. 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 Wildt’s Form 131 petition. See footnote

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 Board’s final determination. See footnote

Footnote: 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.” (Pet’r. 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.

Footnote: However, in some cases, the State Board may review assessments despite untimely filed petitions for review. Wetzel Enters. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 Comm’rs 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 Comm’s, 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 Wildt’s frustration with the events surrounding this case and notes his concerted effort to present his case at the hearing. Today’s decision can only add to such frustration. However, the statute must be followed. Failure to do so results in cases such as this.