Seafirst Corp. v. Arizona Dept. of Revenue, No. TX

CourtTax Court of Arizona
Writing for the CourtMORONEY
Citation172 Ariz. 54,833 P.2d 725
Docket NumberNo. TX
Decision Date22 May 1992
PartiesSEAFIRST CORPORATION v. ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; County of Maricopa. 90-00871.

Page 725

833 P.2d 725
172 Ariz. 54
SEAFIRST CORPORATION

v.
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE; County of Maricopa.
No. TX 90-00871.
Tax Court of Arizona.
May 22, 1992.

Page 726

[172 Ariz. 55] Perry, Pierson & Kolsrud by Mark D. Svejda, Phoenix, for plaintiff-appellant.

Atty. Gen. by Steven R. Partridge, Phoenix, for defendant-appellee Arizona Dept. of Revenue.

Page 727

[172 Ariz. 56] Atty. Gen. by Daniel R. Christl, Phoenix, for defendant-appellee Maricopa County.

OPINION

MORONEY, Judge.

This is a property tax appeal pursuant to A.R.S. §§ 42-246 and 42-177. A.R.S. § 42-246 authorizes an appeal directly to superior court by a property owner dissatisfied with the determination of valuation or classification of property by a county assessor. The statute requires that the appeal be taken "in the manner provided in § 42-177."

A.R.S. § 42-177 provides, in pertinent part, that "[a]ll taxes levied and assessed against property on which an appeal has been filed by the owner thereof shall be paid under protest prior to the date the tax becomes delinquent." Arizona appellate courts, and this court, have repeatedly held that compliance with the quoted language is required in order for the Tax Court to maintain jurisdiction over the taxpayer's appeal. Pima County v. Cyprus-Pima Mining Co., 119 Ariz. 111, 579 P.2d 1081 (1978); County of Maricopa v. Chatwin, 17 Ariz.App. 576, 499 P.2d 190 (1972); RCJ Corp. v. Arizona Dep't of Revenue, 168 Ariz. 328, 812 P.2d 1146 (Tax 1991).

The tax year in dispute here is 1990. The Complaint brings in issue the Assessor's valuations for fifteen parcels of the Taxpayer's property. The first installments of 1990 taxes on all parcels were timely paid. The second installments on nine parcels were not paid until after they had become delinquent.

Maricopa County now seeks to have dismissed that part of the Complaint that challenges the Assessor's valuations on the nine parcels on which the taxes were not paid before becoming delinquent. Maricopa County argues that, because the second half 1990 taxes were not paid on time, the Court has lost jurisdiction.

The Taxpayer responds that it received no notice of the Assessor's valuations, and, therefore, to dismiss the Complaint would deprive the Taxpayer of due process.

The issue presented to the Court in this appeal is whether, under the circumstances presented in this case, direct notice to the Taxpayer of the taxing authority's valuation is a necessary prerequisite to a requirement that current taxes be timely paid in order to maintain a valuation appeal.

The Court holds it is not. The Motion to Dismiss is granted.

Maricopa County seeks dismissal because it claims the Court has lost jurisdiction over the subject matter of the controversy delineated in the Complaint. In such a circumstance, the Court should receive such evidence as is necessary to permit the Court to determine the merits of the motion. The factual scenario set forth below is essentially that presented by the Taxpayer.

The Taxpayer became the owner of the subject property at a deed of trust trustee's sale. The trustee's deed was recorded March 12, 1990, at the office of the Maricopa County Recorder. In August 1990, the Maricopa County Assessor was informed that the Taxpayer had acquired the nine parcels at issue, as well as some others. 1990 valuations were requested from the Assessor. Apparently nothing was done to change the Assessor's records to show the Taxpayer as the owner of the relevant parcels. The Assessor did not send the Taxpayer notice of the Assessor's 1990 valuation of the property.

The Taxpayer was able to determine what the first half tax bills were, however. It paid them all before they became delinquent.

The power to tax is an inherent power of government. The imposition, assessment, and collection of taxes is a process that is dictated entirely by statute. Subject to constitutional limitation, the legislature may make such provisions as it chooses to provide for funding the needs of state government. Southern Pac. Co. v. Pima County, 38 Ariz. 11, 296 P. 533 (1931); Pacific Fruit Express Co. v. City of Yuma, 32 Ariz. 601, 261 P. 49 (1927). If it chooses to do so, a state may impose a tax on property, measure the tax by the

Page 728

[172 Ariz. 57] value of the property, and collect it from the property owner. Luhrs v. City of Phoenix, 52 Ariz. 438, 83 P.2d 283 (1938). Arizona has made that choice.

In Arizona, property taxation begins with an assessor classifying property, and determining a valuation for it. An assessment ratio dictated by the classification is applied to the valuation. A tax rate determined according to statute is applied to the product to produce the tax due.

Nearly 60 years ago, in State Tax Comm'n of Arizona v. Board of Supervisors of Yavapai County, 43 Ariz. 156, 29 P.2d 733 (1934), our Supreme Court reviewed the then existing scheme in Arizona for the imposition of property taxes. Its purpose in doing so was to test the Arizona scheme against the constitutional requirement of due process. In the intervening years, much has changed about property taxation in Arizona; but much, including statutory language, has remained the same. The principals of constitutional law set forth in Board of Supervisors remain as viable today as they were when written. This Court relies in large measure on Board of Supervisors for its rulings herein on due process.

The due process clauses in both the Arizona and United States Constitutions require that, in any scheme to impose a tax, there be provision whereby a putative taxpayer can appeal to an impartial tribunal any act of government which affects the validity or amount of any tax to which the government asserts the taxpayer is subject.

There is no requirement, however, that such an appeal be to a trial court, or even that it be to a court at all. Constitutional requirements of due process are satisfied even if the appellate tribunal be not of the judicial branch of government. Yuma County v. Arizona & Swansea R.R. Co., 30 Ariz. 27, 243 P. 907...

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11 practice notes
  • Mesquite Power, LLC v. Ariz. Dep't of Revenue, 1 CA-TX 20-0009
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • August 24, 2021
    ...of its valuation. But Mesquite 497 P.3d 1032 had forfeited its opportunity to be heard via an appeal. See, e.g. , Seafirst Corp. v. ADOR , 172 Ariz. 54, 59, 833 P.2d 725, 730 (Ariz. Tax Ct. 1992) (taxpayer who failed to comply with the statute authorizing appeal forfeited right to appeal). ......
  • Appeal in Yuma County J-88-201, J-88-202, J-88-203, Matter of, J-88-201
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • July 7, 1992
    ...however, that DES had not satisfied its obligation to use diligent efforts to preserve or reunify the family. 2 After a thorough Page 725 [172 Ariz. 54] review of the record, we conclude that this finding was contrary to the evidence presented at trial and thus clearly erroneous. The testim......
  • Mary Ellen C. v. Arizona Dept. of Economic Sec., No. 1CA-JV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 19, 1999
    ...another termination on grounds of mental illness, we described DES's reunification effort as "prolonged, painstaking, yet futile." 172 Ariz. at 54, 833 P.2d at 725. Here, in contrast, we may accurately describe DES's effort as belated, fitful, and indifferent. ¶39 Nor did the State introduc......
  • Forum Development, L.C. v. Arizona Dept. of Revenue, Nos. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • December 11, 1997
    ...2 Real property taxes in Arizona are assessed against the property, not the owner. See Seafirst Corp. v. Arizona Dep't of Revenue, 172 Ariz. 54, 58, 833 P.2d 725, 729 (Tax 1992). The Seafirst court decided that a property owner who had acquired its property after the deadline for an adminis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Mesquite Power, LLC v. Ariz. Dep't of Revenue, 1 CA-TX 20-0009
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • August 24, 2021
    ...of its valuation. But Mesquite 497 P.3d 1032 had forfeited its opportunity to be heard via an appeal. See, e.g. , Seafirst Corp. v. ADOR , 172 Ariz. 54, 59, 833 P.2d 725, 730 (Ariz. Tax Ct. 1992) (taxpayer who failed to comply with the statute authorizing appeal forfeited right to appeal). ......
  • Appeal in Yuma County J-88-201, J-88-202, J-88-203, Matter of, J-88-201
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • July 7, 1992
    ...however, that DES had not satisfied its obligation to use diligent efforts to preserve or reunify the family. 2 After a thorough Page 725 [172 Ariz. 54] review of the record, we conclude that this finding was contrary to the evidence presented at trial and thus clearly erroneous. The testim......
  • Mary Ellen C. v. Arizona Dept. of Economic Sec., No. 1CA-JV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 19, 1999
    ...another termination on grounds of mental illness, we described DES's reunification effort as "prolonged, painstaking, yet futile." 172 Ariz. at 54, 833 P.2d at 725. Here, in contrast, we may accurately describe DES's effort as belated, fitful, and indifferent. ¶39 Nor did the State introduc......
  • Forum Development, L.C. v. Arizona Dept. of Revenue, Nos. 1
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • December 11, 1997
    ...2 Real property taxes in Arizona are assessed against the property, not the owner. See Seafirst Corp. v. Arizona Dep't of Revenue, 172 Ariz. 54, 58, 833 P.2d 725, 729 (Tax 1992). The Seafirst court decided that a property owner who had acquired its property after the deadline for an adminis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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