Court Denies Two Motions to Dismiss Taxpayers’ Appeals

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
28 Aug 2015

The Tax Court recently issued decisions denying Franklin Township’s motions to dismiss two taxpayers’ appeals.  In 2200 Cottontail Assocs. v. Twp. of Franklin, the Township filed a Chapter 91 motion for plaintiff’s failure to respond to the assessor’s request for income and expense information.  As mentioned previously on this blog on numerous posts, a taxpayer’s failure to respond to the assessor’s Ch. 91 request within 45-days warrants a dismissal of the taxpayer’s appeal.

2200 Cottontail Assocs. involved a tax assessor’s certified mail containing the Ch. 91 request that was returned to the assessor by the postal service stating that the recipient had “moved, left no address.”  The taxpayer disputed that they had moved, indicating that the address on the return receipt card was the correct address for delivery of tax-related mail, and that quarterly tax bills were also received at the address.  Furthermore, Ch. 91 requests from the assessor for prior tax years were received at the same address and timely responses were provided to the assessor.  In light of this contention by the plaintiff, the Tax Court denied the Township’s Ch. 91 motion stating “that it is more likely than not that the postal service erred when it marked the information request ‘moved, left no address’ and returned the request to the assessor.”

In the second case, Franklin Township filed a motion to dismiss an appeal for the taxpayer’s failure to pay taxes and municipal charges.  In Somerset Group Hospitality, LLC v. Twp. of Franklin, the taxpayer filed a timely direct appeal to the Tax Court of the 2015 assessment.  The Township however filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for plaintiff’s failure to pay local property taxes and municipal charges on the property for the first and second quarters of 2015.  Prior to the motion return date, plaintiff made a $10,000 payment towards its outstanding property taxes and satisfied plaintiff’s first quarter 2015 property tax in arrears.  Franklin Township however maintained that plaintiff must pay all taxes due for tax year 2015, including the second quarter 2015 taxes.

The Tax Court rejected the Township’s argument and ultimately denied the motion to dismiss.  The statute governing direct appeals to the Tax Court clearly states that a taxpayer is required to pay taxes “up to and including the first quarter of the taxes and municipal charges assessed. . .”  The Tax Court ruled that plaintiff had satisfied the tax payment requirement by paying its first quarter 2015 taxes and that the Township’s interpretation is contrary to the clear language of the statute.  A copy of the statute can be found here.