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Arkansas Tax and Incentives Update

Arkansas Court of Appeals: You Need a Lawyer to File a Petition to Appeal an Ad Valorem Tax Assessment to County Court

Posted On: Monday, November 30, 2015

Taxpayers need to be careful to use an attorney when required in the property tax appeals process. The Arkansas Court of Appeals, in Stephens Production Company v. Bennett, 2015 Ark. App. 617 (Oct. 28, 2015), affirmed a lower court's dismissal of appeals of the taxpayer's 2011 and 2012 Franklin County tax assessments. The taxpayer had disagreed with the County Assessor's assessments of the taxpayer’s mineral interests, and it appealed the assessments to the Franklin County Board of Equalization. After the Board of Equalization affirmed the assessments, the taxpayer filed petitions to appeal to County Court with the County Clerk, following the prescribed statutory procedure. These petitions to appeal were signed by a taxpayer employee, its tax accounting manager. The County Court affirmed the assessments. On further appeal to the Circuit Court, the assessments were dismissed for three reasons: (1) lack of jurisdiction because the appeal to County Court was filed by a non-attorney, (2) failure to join necessary parties (the Franklin County Equalization Board and the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department), and (3) exclusive jurisdiction by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Appeal to the Arkansas Court of Appeals followed.
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