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Introduced Version House Bill 2931 History

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hb2931 intr
H. B. 2931


(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss (By Request))
[Introduced March 8, 2005; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary then Finance.]




A BILL to amend and reenact §11-3-24a and §11-3-25 of the Code of West Virginia 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §11-10A-8 of said code, all relating to providing for any review of the State Tax Commissioner's ruling on a question of classification or taxability (not valuation) of real property for ad valorem property tax purposes to be by the Office of Tax Appeals, not by the various circuit courts, with any subsequent appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §11-3-24a and §11-3-25 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §11-10A-8 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS GENERALLY.
§11-3-24a. Protest to assessor regarding classification or taxability of real or personal property; appeal to office of tax appeals; appeal therefrom directly to Supreme Court of Appeals.

At any time after property is returned for taxation and up to and including the time the property books are before the county court commission for equalization and review, any taxpayer may apply to the assessor for information regarding the classification and or taxability of his or her property. In case the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the classification of property assessed to him or her or believes that such property is exempt or otherwise not subject to taxation, he the taxpayer shall file his or her objections in writing with the assessor. The assessor shall decide the question by either sustaining the protest and making proper corrections, or by stating, in writing if requested, the reasons for his or her the assessor's refusal. The assessor may, and if the taxpayer requests, the assessor shall, certify the question to the State Tax Commissioner in a statement sworn to by both parties, or if the parties are unable to agree, in separate sworn statements, giving a full description of the property and any other information which the Tax Commissioner may require. The Tax Commissioner shall prescribe forms on which the aforesaid questions shall be certified and he or she shall have the authority to pursue any inquiry and procure any information which may be necessary for the disposition of the issue.
The Tax Commissioner shall, as soon as possible on receipt of the question, but in no case later than February the twenty-eighth day of February of the assessment year, instruct the assessor as to how the property shall be treated. The instructions issued and forwarded by mail to the assessor shall be binding upon him the assessor, but either the assessor or the taxpayer may apply to the circuit court of the county timely file a petition with the West Virginia office of Tax Appeals under the provisions of article ten-a, chapter eleven of this code, within sixty days after receiving written notice of the Tax Commissioner's ruling, for the review on the existing record of the question of classification and or taxability. in the same fashion as is provided for appeals from the county court in section twenty-five of this article The Tax Commissioner shall prescribe forms on which the aforesaid questions shall be certified and he or she shall have the authority to pursue any inquiry and procure any information which may be necessary for the disposition of the issue. Any final decision or order of the West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals disposing of a question of classification or taxability of real or personal property shall be prepared, certified and filed in the same manner set forth in section twenty-five, article three, chapter eleven of this code, for orders of circuit courts upon review of questions of valuation of real or personal property. An aggrieved party may timely file an appeal with the Supreme Court of appeals from a final decision or order of the West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals on the question of classification or taxability of the property for property tax purposes, in accordance with the provisions of article ten-a, chapter eleven of this code.
§11-3-25. Relief in circuit court against erroneous assessment based upon alleged error in valuation.

Any person claiming to be aggrieved by any assessment in any land or personal property book of any county who shall have appeared and contested the valuation or whose assessment has been raised by the county court commission above the assessment fixed by the assessor, or who contested the classification or taxability of his property may, at any time up to thirty days after the adjournment of the county court commission, apply for relief to the circuit court of the county in which such books are made out; but he any such person applying for relief in circuit court shall, before any such application is heard, give ten days' notice to the prosecuting attorney of the county, whose duty it shall be to attend to the interests of the state, county and district in the matter, and the prosecuting attorney shall give at least five days' notice of such hearing to the Tax Commissioner. The right of appeal from any assessment by the county court commission, as hereinbefore provided, may be taken either by the applicant or by the state, and in case the applicant, by his or her agent or attorney, or the state, by its prosecuting attorney or Tax Commissioner, desires to take an appeal from the decision of the county court commission, the party desiring to take such an appeal shall have the evidence taken at the hearing of the application before the county court commission. If there was an appearance by or on behalf of the owner of before the county court commission, or if actual notice, certified by such court commission, was given to the owner, the appeal, when allowed by the court or judge, in vacation, shall be determined from the evidence so certified. If, however, there was no actual notice to such owner, and no appearance by or on behalf of the owner before the county court commission, or if a question of classification or taxability is presented, the matter shall be heard de novo by the circuit court. If, upon the hearing of such appeal, it is determined that any property has been valued at more than its true and actual value, or illegally classified or assessed, the circuit court shall, by an order entered of record, correct the assessment, and fix the property at its true and actual value. A copy of such order or orders entered by the circuit court reducing the valuation shall be certified to the Auditor, if the order or orders pertain to real property, by the clerk within twenty days after the entering of the same, and every order or judgment shall show that the prosecuting attorney or Tax Commissioner was present and defended the interest of the state, county and district. If it be ascertained that any property has been valued too high, and that the owner has paid the excess tax, it shall be refunded to him or her, and if not paid he or she shall be relieved from the payment thereof. If it is ascertained that any property is valued too low the circuit court shall, by an order entered of record, correct the valuation and fix it at its true and actual value. A copy of any order entered by any circuit court increasing the valuation of property shall be certified within twenty days, if the order pertains to real property, to the Auditor, the county clerk and the sheriff; however, if the order pertains only to personal property, then the copy shall be certified within twenty days to the county clerk and to the sheriff and it shall be the duty of the Auditor, the county clerk and the sheriff to charge the taxpayer affected with the increase of valuation by applying the rate of levies for every purpose in the district where such property is situated for the current year. The order shall also be filed in the office of the Auditor and clerk of the county court commission. Any order disposing of a question of classification or taxability shall be similarly prepared, certified and filed, and the increase or decrease of taxes resulting shall be treated as provided above for changes in valuation. The state or the aggrieved taxpayer may appeal a question of valuation to the Supreme Court of Appeals, if the assessed value of the property is fifty thousand dollars or more. and either party may appeal a question of classification or taxability
ARTICLE 10A. WEST VIRGINIA OFFICE OF TAX APPEALS.
§11-10A-8. Jurisdiction of office of tax appeals.
The Office of Tax Appeals has exclusive and original jurisdiction to hear and to determine all:
(1) Appeals from tax assessments issued by the Tax Commissioner pursuant to article ten of this chapter;
(2) Appeals from decisions or orders of the Tax Commissioner
denying refunds or credits for all taxes administered in accordance with the provisions of article ten of this chapter;
(3) Appeals from orders of the Tax Commissioner denying, suspending, revoking, or refusing to renew any license or imposing any civil money penalty for violating the provisions of any licensing law administered by the Tax Commissioner;
(4) Questions presented when a hearing is requested pursuant to the provisions of any article of this chapter which is administered by the provisions of article ten of this chapter;
(5) Matters which the Tax Division is required by statute or
legislatively approved rules to hear, except employee grievances filed pursuant to article six-a, chapter twenty-nine of this code; and
(6) Other matters which may be conferred on the office of tax
appeals by statute or legislatively approved rules; and
(7) Appeals by a county assessor or by a taxpayer from rulings of the Tax Commissioner with respect to classification or taxability of real or personal property for ad valorem property tax purposes, as set forth in section twenty-four-a, article three, chapter eleven of this code.




NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide for any review of the State Tax Commissioner's ruling on a question of classification or taxability (not valuation) of real or personal property for ad valorem property tax purposes to be by the Office of Tax Appeals, not by the various circuit courts, with any subsequent appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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