INDIANAPOLIS | Hoosiers who believe they overpaid their property taxes or were improperly denied a tax credit -- in any year since 2000 -- now can ask their county auditor to correct the error.
In a decision that Indiana Tax Court Judge Martha Blood Wentworth acknowledged "has the potential to open the floodgates" of error appeals, she ruled late Friday that the long-assumed three-year limit on taxpayer petitions to correct property tax errors has not been in effect this century.
Wentworth determined in her review of a Hamilton County tax appeal, where the county failed to apply a properly requested homestead credit from 2004-7, that the 1989 state regulation imposing a three-year limit on error correction petitions was repealed in 2000 and not replaced.
As a result, any petition to correct a post-2000 error in property tax payments, credits or deductions must be considered timely filed, she said.
Wentworth noted she is "well aware" of the potential consequences of her ruling, but said she could reach no other conclusion since "no statutory or regulatory time limitation exists after April 1, 2000."
"The court declines to invade the domain of the Legislature and write in a limitations period where none exists," Wentworth said. "It is the role of our elected Legislature, not of the judiciary, to determine public policy."
At the same time, she writes in her decision that the court "ardently urges" the General Assembly or Department of Local Government Finance "to act with all haste to provide security against state claims arising under (the error correction statute)."
Wentworth is the only judge of the Indiana Tax Court, an appellate-level court created in 1986 that primarily reviews contested final tax determinations made by state agencies.
Her decisions can be appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.