Friday, November 09, 2007

Judge dismisses property tax lawsuit

By Prince Charles WilsonThe Associated Press

Indianapolis -- A justice today dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's place taxation system, opinion that householders who filed the lawsuit had not exhausted administrative remedies.

The lawsuit filed in Hoosier State Tax Court questioned statewide appraisal methods, the usage of revenue enhancement suspensions and claimed that the system makes not follow with the state constitutional demand of a "uniform and equal charge per unit of place taxation appraisal and taxation." It also challenged whether Daniels had authorization to widen a statutory deadline for counties to follow higher local income taxations to countervail place taxes.

"The conflict for a unvarying and equal taxation system in Hoosier State will now travel from the tribunals to the General Assembly," Toilet Price, an lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Property taxation reform -- including a program outlined by Gov. Mitch Daniels -- is expected to predominate the session that gets in earnest in January.

The lawsuit came during a twelvemonth in which norm place taxation measures for householders statewide were projected to increase by 24 percent, although many issued so far have got spiked much higher. The state also ordered reappraisals in as many as 21 counties because functionaries surmise that commercial and/or industrial places were undervalued, which switches more than revenue enhancement load to homeowners.

That have led to respective taxpayer protestations and widespread unfavorable judgment of the system and prompted Daniels to sketch a program that includes a cap on place taxes.

"This tribunal is acutely aware of the public's discontent with the putative insufficiencies of Indiana's place appraisal and taxation system," Hoosier State Tax Court Judge Seth Thomas Fisherman wrote in the 11-page ruling. "What the suppliants are asking the tribunal to do, however, is to make and confabulate upon itself subject substance legal power where subject substance legal power makes not exist. This the tribunal cannot do."

The taxation court's legal power is limited by state law and higher tribunal opinions to lawsuits arising from determinations of the Hoosier State Department of State Gross and the Hoosier State Board of Tax Review, Fisherman wrote. He also wrote that he lacked standing to govern on constitutional issues under current law.

That left taxpayers trapped by the current system, Price said in the statement.

"The statutory model to which the justice referred would look to necessitate the taxpayers to show their constitutional claims to state federal federal agencies who clearly have got no authorization to take any action on claims that the agencies themselves go against the Hoosier State Constitution," he said. "The demand for taxpayers to leap through bureaucratic hoops shouts out for legislative revision."

Accordingly, the complainants -- including respective taxpayer associations -- would formally originate a new confederation next hebdomad to "take an active populace function in the unfolding argument in the Legislature on the abrogation of place taxes," he said.

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