Village League appeals Tahoe tax ruling
July 26, 2013
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Village League to Save Incline Assets is challenging a court ruling ordering the Washoe County assessor to re-evaluate properties for the 2003, 2004 and 2005 tax years.
In his July 1 ruling, Washoe Court District Court Judge Patrick Flanagan agreed with a recent State Board of Equalization decision that determined some 8,700 Incline/Crystal Bay parcels were assessed unconstitutionally.
"Once the assessments are completed, the board may then seek additional taxes or refund taxes to the homeowners based upon the new valuation of their property for the years in question," Flanagan ruled.
The Village League — the nonprofit representing Incline/Crystal Bay homeowners in their 11-year tax revolt — later filed an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court.
The group also filed a motion to "stay" Flanagan's decision, which would prevent the reappraisal process from starting until the Supreme Court hears the case.
"We are concerned that the county, as well as the State Board of Equalization, sees their reappraisal strategy as a means to back-date and raise our taxes," said Village League board member Chuck Otto.
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The Village League originally filed the lawsuit in 2003, arguing the assessor used impermissible factors, such as views and proximity to Lake Tahoe, in assessing home values that were higher than like properties in Douglas County.
The district court originally ruled against the Village League, which appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court returned the case to district for a re-hearing.
Flanagan's subsequent decision was also appealed to the Supreme Court, and justices ruled again to return the case, with instruction to Flanagan to remand the SBOE to equalize all taxes in the state of Nevada.
After several meetings in 2012, the SBOE ruled that all Incline/Crystal Bay properties be reappraised for each of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 tax years.
The Village League is challenging both the SBOE and Flanagan rulings, said its president, Maryanne Ingemanson, considering the Supreme Court has ruled in previous cases that many Incline parcels should receive refunds for those years.
"Every property owner who had received refunds for those years could certainly be reappraised at a higher value and receive retroactive additional tax liens on their properties," Ingemanson said. "Also, there is nothing to keep the county from re-appraising everyone at higher values than they previously had…"
The fact this case has lasted 10 years is troubling, Ingemanson said.
"The county has indeed used every stall tactic in the book to forestall another order from the courts to refund the illegally collected taxes for the 2003-2005 tax years," Ingemanson said. "The county obviously hopes to avoid having to pay the refunds to the 8,000 parcel owners who had not previously received relief."
It's unclear when Flanagan may rule on the Village League's motion to stay.
While related, this case is separate from the recent payback by Washoe County of more than $44 million to Incline property owners. Those Supreme Court-ordered refunds were for illegal taxes collected from the 2006-07 tax year to the present.