West Virginia ~ Property Tax: Leasehold Assessment Presented Issue of Valuation, Not Taxability

CCH Tax Day Report

A West Virginia circuit court’s decision dismissing a taxpayer’s property tax appeal was erroneous because the taxpayer’s challenge as to whether a leasehold had separate and independent value presented an issue of valuation, not taxability, and was properly presented to the Board of Equalization and Review (BER) as prescribed by statute. The circuit court had concluded that the taxpayer, by asserting the leasehold had no value and was therefore not taxable, was advancing a taxability challenge that the BER had no jurisdiction to decide, and therefore had denied its protest. The taxpayer contended that the BER had the statutory burden of correcting “errors in valuation of property” because the county had erroneously assessed a value for its leasehold interest when it should have assigned a $0 value due to a nonmarketable lease. Consequently, the circuit court’s contention was flawed because one must first determine whether a leasehold has value in order to ascertain its taxability. Accordingly, the case was remanded for further inquiry as there was nothing from the circuit court upon which to base a review of whether the assessment was in fact erroneous, as asserted in the taxpayer’s remaining assignments of error.

University Park at Evansdale, LLC v. Musick, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, No. 15-0934, October 26, 2016, ¶401-239

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