Saturday, November 10, 2007

Price's Tax Lawsuit Tossed

Indiana Tax Court Judge Tom Fisher tossed a lawsuit filed by John Price on behalf of several Marion County property taxpayers because the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. Fisher wrote in dismissing the lawsuit:

"This court is acutely aware of the public's discontent with the purported inadequacies of Indiana's property assessment and taxation system," Indiana Tax Court Judge Thomas Fisher wrote in the 11-page ruling. "What the petitioners are asking the court to do, however, is to create and confer upon itself subject matter jurisdiction where subject matter jurisdiction does not exist. This the court cannot do."
You may recall that Price contended, among other things, in his lawsuit that the county option income tax increase adopted by the Indianapolis City-County Council this year is invalid because Councilor Patrice Abduallah had vacated his district at the time he cast a decision-making vote in support of the tax increase ordinance. I criticized local Republicans for failing to challenge the placement of Andre Carson's name on the ballot after Abduallah resigned, arguing it violated state law because Democrats failed to appoint a replacement for Abduallah's vacancy by the statutory deadline. As we now know, Abduallah never lived in his district during the four years he represented District 15. The chance of invalidating the tax increase vote because of Abduallah's fraudulent presence on the council ended with the dismissal of Price's lawsuit.


Anonymous said...

Now that the voters have spoken, the GOP has the votes to repeal which will be quick and easy. I am sure that they would get many Dem votes on that also. Who needs a lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

I thought Judge Fisher ruled only on standing, not the legal arguments contained therein?

If so, isn't Cert a viable option? Or, does standing alone mean the case cnanot proceed?

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 9:37, you are correct. The plaintiffs have to administratively exhaust their remedies before Judge Fisher will hear the merits of their case.

Gary R. Welsh said...

His ruling does effectively end this case unless the plaintiffs decide to appeal his decision to the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Another legal procedure question, Gary...sorry to bore you...

If the Fisher ruling is strictly on standing, then he made no ruling on merit, right?

And if that's true, do the plaintiffs have to search for more plaintiffs who have standing, or does the exact same case get used in a Cert petition?

Or do they start all over?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Let me try this one more time and I'll try to be more clear this time. There is an administrative procedure for appealing your property taxes. The lawsuit arose out of this year's reassessments. Price threw some other arguments, including the validity of the COIT, into the mix. The plaintiffs bypassed the appeal process and went directly to the Tax Court. Judge Fisher did not have to consider the merits of the plaintiffs' case. He simply dismissed it because he lacked jurisdiction to hear the case until the parties exhausted their administrative remedy.

Anonymous said...

Crystal clear.

I read Judge Fisher's opinion. I know him, and have become a devote of his original tax court decision on property taxes. He's an unassuming, bright man. Former judge from Rensselaer, kind man, his staff speaks well of know the type.

It is clear from his most recent ruling that he wanted to side with Price's plaintiffs.

If they go back and exhaust their administrative avenues, can we expect them to come back to the judge's court?