Appeal of Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, No. 17993

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtHENDERSON; MILLER, C.J., SABERS and AMUNDSON, JJ., and TUCKER; TUCKER, Circuit Judge, sitting for WUEST
Citation513 N.W.2d 562
Docket NumberNo. 17993
Decision Date16 March 1994
PartiesIn the Matter of the APPEAL OF SIOUX VALLEY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION from the Decision of the State Board of Equalization of the State of South Dakota. SIOUX VALLEY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, Appellee, v. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, and Minnehaha County, South Dakota, Intervenor and Appellant.

Page 562

513 N.W.2d 562
In the Matter of the APPEAL OF SIOUX VALLEY HOSPITAL
ASSOCIATION from the Decision of the State Board
of Equalization of the State of South Dakota.
SIOUX VALLEY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, Appellee,
v.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION,
and
Minnehaha County, South Dakota, Intervenor and Appellant.
No. 17993.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Argued March 17, 1993.
Decided March 16, 1994.

Monte R. Walz, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz and Smith, Sioux Falls, for appellee.

Peter Gregory, Minnehaha County Deputy State's Atty., Sioux Falls, for intervenor and appellant.

HENDERSON, Justice.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY/ISSUES

This matter arises from the 1989 reassessment of the Wellness Center (Center) at Sioux Valley Hospital (Hospital) in Sioux Falls whereby the Minnehaha County Board of Equalization denied the Center its previous full property tax exemption. After the State Board of Equalization (Board) sustained the decision, Hospital appealed and Minnehaha County intervened.

Following a May 1991 trial, the trial court declared the Center to be 93% tax-exempt for the years 1989, 1990, and 1991. Board appeals raising the following issues:

I. Did the trial court place the burden of proof on Hospital?

II. Did the trial court err in determining that the Center is used primarily for health care and health care related purposes?

III. Did the trial court err in calculating the percentage of property taxable?

IV. Is the Center exempt from property taxes as a public charity?

Based upon the overly broad definition of "human health care and health care related services," we reverse and remand.

FACTS

"Wellness" is a medical term defined by the South Dakota State Health Plan as "the state of being in which the mind and body work together to maintain a state of optimal health." During 1987, Hospital, a non-profit corporation exempt from income taxes per Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, owned and operated a facility on 43rd Street in Sioux Falls devoted to achieving this state of being.

In 1989, a new 60,992 square feet Wellness Center was opened on 49th Street which included racquetball courts, a basketball/volleyball court, an indoor track, classrooms, indoor swimming pool, a retail sales area, and a cafeteria. (A Rehabilitative Center and Medical Clinic were later added, but their tax status is not challenged here.) New members receive a health assessment to determine health needs. A portion of the membership originates from physician referrals. Although fees are charged, those who cannot afford the cost are eligible for reduced or free memberships. This fact, however, is apparently not well publicized.

When the Center was located on 43rd Street, it was fully exempt from property taxes. This changed in 1988 when Minnehaha County and the Board changed the 100% exempt status to 30% due to the lack of health care related activities and the "recreational" nature of some of the fitness areas. On appeal, the trial court reversed the Board, found the Center to be devoted to health care related activities, and ruled that 93% of the Center's property during 1989, 1990, and 1991 was exempt from property taxes.

DECISION

I. Trial court placed the burden of proof on the Hospital.

Ambiguous statutes granting tax exemptions are to be strictly construed in favor of the taxing power. Lutherans Outdoors v. Bd. of Equalization, 475 N.W.2d 140, 145 (S.D.1991); Matter of State & City Sales Tax Liability, 437 N.W.2d 209, 211 (S.D.1989). Cognizant of this burden, Judge Kean, in his second sentence at trial, stated to counsel for Hospital, "Mr. Walz, you may proceed then because you carry the burden of proof at this time."

Nevertheless, Board alleges the trial court did not hold Hospital to the legally required burden. If so, Board should have either

Page 564

objected or, at the close of Hospital's case, motioned for a directed verdict. Rather, Board made no effort to document any dispute to the burden until this appeal was filed.

"Generally, error must be brought to the attention of the trial court as soon as it is apparent and failure to object at a time when the court can take corrective action precludes appellate review." Matter of Adoption of Baade, 462 N.W.2d 485, 488 (S.D.1990); In re A.I., 289 N.W.2d 247, 249 (S.D.1980). As the party claiming error, Board had the responsibility to insure that a record was made. SDCL 15-26A-48; Sioux Enterprises v. Tri-State Refining, 456 N.W.2d 774, 777 (S.D.1990). Regardless, Board's brief provides nothing to vouch for its claim and the trial record supports the opposite conclusion. As we are not definitely and firmly convinced that the trial court erred in distributing the burden of proof, we find no reason to address this issue any further. Wolff v. Royal Ins. Co. of America, 472 N.W.2d 233 (S.D.1991); In re Estate of Hobelsberger, 85 S.D. 282, 181 N.W.2d 455 (1970).

II. Trial court erred in defining health care.

All property in this state is subject to taxation unless "expressly exempted" by statute. South Dakota Education Association v. Dromey, 85 S.D. 630, 188 N.W.2d 833 (1971). SDCL 10-4-9.3 states that non-profit corporations may be exempt if "used primarily for human health care and health care related purposes." However, the statute fails to define these terms.

Consistent with precedent, the trial court sought to give the terms their "plain, ordinary, and popular meaning" by using Black's Law Dictionary and Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary as guides. See Northwestern Bell v. Public Util. Comm'n, 467 N.W.2d 468 (S.D.1991); Lien v. Rowe, 77 S.D. 422, 92 N.W.2d 922 (1958). "Health care," per the trial court, became the "attention to maintaining a state of soundness of the mind and body, and promoting freedom from pain or sickness." Comparing this definition to "wellness" as defined by the State Health Plan, the trial court concluded that a wellness program implementing lifestyle changes, diet, nutrition and exercise is tax exempt under SDCL 10-4-9.3.

Again we note that statutes allowing a tax exemption are strictly and narrowly construed in favor...

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7 practice notes
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Janklow, No. Civ97-1015.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • March 2, 2000
    ...(holding that "[a]ll property is subject to taxation unless expressly exempted by statute"); Appeal of Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562, 564 (1994) (same); South Dakota Educ. Ass'n v. Dromey, 85 S.D. 630, 188 N.W.2d 833 (1971) (same). The proration of the excise tax as adopted by th......
  • U.S. ex rel. Cheyenne River Sioux v. South Dakota, No. CIV 92-3035.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • March 2, 2000
    ...1997) (holding that "[a]ll property is subject to taxation unless expressly exempted by statute"); Appeal of Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562, 564 (1994) (same); South Dakota Educ. Ass'n v. Dromey, 85 S.D. 630, 188 N.W.2d 833 (1971) (same). The proration of the excise tax as adopted......
  • Gilkyson v. Wheelchair Exp., Inc., No. 20102
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 13, 1998
    ...1996 SD 14, p 15, 543 N.W.2d 260, 263 (quoting In re A.I., 289 N.W.2d 247, 249 (S.D.1980)). See also In re Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562 (S.D.1994); In re Adoption of Baade, 462 N.W.2d 485, 488 ¶13 Wheelchair Express next claims it was denied a fair trial when the trial judge all......
  • Milligan v. Waldo, No. 21369.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 3, 2001
    ...is considered waived as it was never argued below. State v. Spiry, 1996 SD 14, ¶ 15, 543 N.W.2d 260, 263; In re Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562 (S.D.1994); In re Adoption of Baade, 462 N.W.2d 485, 488...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. Janklow, No. Civ97-1015.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • March 2, 2000
    ...(holding that "[a]ll property is subject to taxation unless expressly exempted by statute"); Appeal of Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562, 564 (1994) (same); South Dakota Educ. Ass'n v. Dromey, 85 S.D. 630, 188 N.W.2d 833 (1971) (same). The proration of the excise tax as adopted by th......
  • U.S. ex rel. Cheyenne River Sioux v. South Dakota, No. CIV 92-3035.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • March 2, 2000
    ...1997) (holding that "[a]ll property is subject to taxation unless expressly exempted by statute"); Appeal of Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562, 564 (1994) (same); South Dakota Educ. Ass'n v. Dromey, 85 S.D. 630, 188 N.W.2d 833 (1971) (same). The proration of the excise tax as adopted......
  • Gilkyson v. Wheelchair Exp., Inc., No. 20102
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 13, 1998
    ...1996 SD 14, p 15, 543 N.W.2d 260, 263 (quoting In re A.I., 289 N.W.2d 247, 249 (S.D.1980)). See also In re Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562 (S.D.1994); In re Adoption of Baade, 462 N.W.2d 485, 488 ¶13 Wheelchair Express next claims it was denied a fair trial when the trial judge all......
  • Milligan v. Waldo, No. 21369.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 3, 2001
    ...is considered waived as it was never argued below. State v. Spiry, 1996 SD 14, ¶ 15, 543 N.W.2d 260, 263; In re Sioux Valley Hosp. Ass'n, 513 N.W.2d 562 (S.D.1994); In re Adoption of Baade, 462 N.W.2d 485, 488...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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