For Those who feel the Real Estate Tax Assessor missed the mark on your property.
Real Estate Taxes-Challenge to Assessment
Wisconsin Lawyer April 2014
Northbrook Wis. LLC v. City of Niagara, 2014 WI.App 22 (filed 14 Jan. 2014) (ordered published 26 Feb. 2014)
Holding: A taxpayer must object to a property tax assessment before the local board of review before filing an excessive-assessment claim; a narrow exception to this general rule did not apply in this case.
Summary: Northbrook Wisconsin LLC appealed an order dismissing its complaint against the city of Niagara for assessing its property too highly. The circuit court concluded dismissal was warranted because Northbrook did not present an objection to the assessment to the city’s board of review before filing its excessive-assessment claim, as required by Wis. Stat. section 74.37(4)(a). Northbrook argued it was not required to file an objection before the board of review because the city never provided Northbrook with a notice of assessment pursuant to Wis. Stat. section 70.365. Northbrook also contended that due process precludes dismissal of its claim. In decision authored by Judge Stark, the court of appeals affirmed.
Wisconsin Statutes section 74.37(4)(a) clearly and unambiguously requires a taxpayer to challenge an assessment at the board of review before filing an excessive assessment claim, unless the taxing authority failed to give the taxpayer notice of the assessment when notice is required under Wis. Stat. section 70.365 (see ¶¶14-15). Section 70.365 requires a notice of assessment to be sent only when a property’s assessed value differs from the previous year’s assessment. In this case there was no change in the assessment, and thus the city was not required to send Northbrook a notice of assessment (see ¶18).
“Because a notice of assessment was not required, the narrow exception to the rule that a taxpayer must challenge an assessment before the Board of Review prior to filing an excessive assessment claim does not apply. Northbrook was therefore required to challenge the 2011 assessment before the Board of Review as a prerequisite to filing its excessive assessment claim. Because Northbrook failed to do so, the circuit court properly granted the City’s motion to dismiss” (¶19).
The appellate court also rejected the taxpayer’s due process claim. The fundamental requirements of procedural due process are notice and an opportunity to be heard. Because the city failed to send a notice of assessment in 2011, Northbrook argued it did not receive notice of its property’s assessed value in time to present an objection to the board of review. Northbrook therefore contended it has been deprived of both notice and an opportunity to be heard.
The court of appeals disagreed. The court said that Northbrook should have known that its 2011 assessment would be unchanged from 2010 because it did not receive a notice of assessment (see ¶23). Moreover, if Northbrook were uncertain about the property’s assessment value, it should have checked the assessment roll, which must be made available in time for taxpayers to object to the board of review (see ¶24).
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