California Property Tax Appeals: Statute of Limitations on Refund Claim

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April 7, 2012

Editor’s Note: I came across this case involving “property tax appeals.”  The case is noteworthy as it discusses the statute of limitations with respect to refund claims.

In a unpublished opinion, the trial court improperly dismissed a taxpayer’s petition for writ of mandate  seeking to compel compliance with Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 4985.2 and requesting a refund of the penalty assessed on supplemental and escape property taxes for 2007.  The case is SFD Union square, LLC v. Putris, Cal. Ct. App., Dkt. No. A130720, 02/14/2012 (not for publication).

The trial court held that the petition was barred by the 6-month statute of limitations set forth in Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 5141(a) , having been filed 14 months (on December 17, 2009) after the taxpayer received the tax collector’s September 30, 2008 letter denying its claim for penalty refund.

The taxpayer’s petition did not allege that a formal claim for a tax refund has been filed with the board of supervisors or city council, under the procedures specified pursuant to Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 5096 , et seq.

Under case law, the 6-month statute under Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 5141(a) begins to run on “the date that the board of supervisors or city council rejects a claim for refund in whole or in part.”  Since the taxpayer did not allege on its petition that it made such a tax refund claim to the Board of Supervisors, Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 5141(a) has no direct application to the present case. Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 5141 applies to actions brought under those provisions, and not to actions brought with respect to Cal. Rev. & Tax. Cd. § 4985.2 .

Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that it did not clearly and affirmatively appear on the face of the petition that the action was barred by the statute of limitations and so the city’s demurrer should not have been sustained on this ground.

What happens next is the “amended complaint” and then we’ll see how the trial court handles/responds to the next demurrer or judgment on the pleadings.


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