JBRV LLC v. Town of Stonington
Municipal Assessor Attempted To Retroactively Correct Assessment
- New London J.D., at New London
- Jan 31 2014 (Date Decided)
- Cosgrove, J.
Connecticut General Statutes §12-60, which permits a municipal assessor to correct any "clerical omission or mistake in the assessment of taxes," does not permit a municipal assessor to correct substantive errors, such as omission of a building. The plaintiffs, Robert and Fred Valenti, own a parcel of property, known as Lot 1A, which contains an automobile dealership. Until 2009, they also owned an adjacent parcel of property, known as Lot 1B, which contains a building that contains plows. (In 2009, they transferred Lot 1B to JBRV LLC.) Between 2007 and 2011, the tax assessor for the Town of Stonington assessed the building on Lot 1B as though it were located on Lot 1A, which increased the assessed value of Lot 1A. In a prior decision, Superior Court Judge Seymour Hendel found that the municipality overassessed Lot 1A and ordered the municipality to refund a portion of the taxes paid for Lot 1A. In 2011, the municipal assessor retroactively increased the assessments of Lot 1B, pursuant to C.G.S. §12-60, which permits the assessor to correct any "clerical omission or mistake in the assessment of taxes" that took place during the preceding three years. The plaintiffs appealed the retroactive assessment and argued that C.G.S. §12-60 did not permit the retroactive assessments. The court observed that if a municipal assessor intends to assess property as valued at $100,000 and transposes the decimal and records the value as $10,000, that constitutes a clerical error that the municipal assessor may correct. If, on the other hand, the municipal assessor intends to assess a particular property as residential and later realizes that the property is commercial, that constitutes a substantive error, which the municipal assessor may not correct. Here, the municipal assessor intended to assess the building as located on Lot 1A, which constituted a substantive error, and the retroactive assessment of Lot 1B was not proper. The court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the municipal assessor’s retroactive assessment of taxes on Lot 1B between 2008 and 2010.