BOARD OF ABATEMENT

Transcript

1 The Office of the Vermont Secretary of State About Abatement May 2014 James C. Condos Secretary of State 128 State Street Montpelier, Vermont 05633-1101 www.sec.state.vt.us

2 Office of the Secretary of State About Abatement May 2014 Dear Reader, boards must make is whether to abate property One of the most difficult decisions that local taxes for a member of its community. Because of th e complexity of the subj ect, I feel that it is this publication. “About Abatement” outlines the state statutes important to update and provide and the principals that apply to this important role. little that a board can do, yet much more that Because abatement is discretionary, there is often at this publication will help re aders navigate the law to find the board would like to do. I hope th ers of his or the best solution for the memb her community. This publication is designed to assist you, the loca l board members, in unde rstanding the statutes and offering best practices. Ther e are four case studies taken from A Book of Opinions , published by the Secretary of State’s Office in 1992 – these case studies offer insight into the process a board may use in order to reach a decision. The Vermont State Statutes that pertain to abat ement are located in the last section of this place for you, as the Board of Abatement, to publication. These laws only set the process in follow. It is up to you to make the important decisions regarding whether a specific taxpayer should have some relief. I hope this helps you as you comple te your civic responsibilities. James C. Condos Vermont Secretary of State 2

3 About Abatement Abatement is a statutory proces s for relieving taxpayers from the What is tax abatement? st when the law authorizes burden of property taxes, penalty (collection fees) and intere its discretion, agrees that the re quest is reasonable and proper. abatement and when the board, in r who faces extraordinary It exists to permit the board to prevent an injus tice or to help a taxpaye xpayer to meet his or her tax obligations. circumstances that make it difficult for the ta Abatements are cautiously granted insofar as they reduce the income to the town and require the town to either spend less or increase the taxe s on the rest of the taxpayers to make up the whole or part” property taxes, interest or collection fees. difference. A board may abate “in 24 V.S.A. § 1535(a). The board of abatement has the power to abate town, town school What taxes may be abated? district taxes, and statewide prope rty taxes. Insofar as the town may abate statewide educational ill be obligated to the state property taxes, the town will st for the full amount of statewide educational taxes due. There are no deadlines for abatement. Because abatement proceedings provide an equitable remedy (they are there to prevent an injustice from occurring,) there are no deadlines for making a request for a hearing before the board of abatement, and there is no deadline by which the board of abatement must meet to consider abatemen t. It is a good practice to schedule abatement hearings on a regular basis (or simply, when re quests are received) since quick action can help l of penalties and interest. prevent an unnecessary accrua Tax abatement is not a tax appeal. Tax abatement differs from a ta x appeal in that the subject of the hearing is taxes, not assessment of propert y. A decision of the board of abatement will not rty, and the board of abatemen affect the assessment of the prope t is not limited to considering abatement for the current year’s taxes, interest or collections fees – but can abate taxes for as long back as it finds appropriate. Also, the board of abatement is a different body from the board of civil authority (the board that determines tax appeals). Makeup of the board of abatement and quorum rules. The board consists of the town treasurer, the town clerk, the selectboard, the liste rs, and the justices of the peace. A majority of the board must be present in order for the board to meet, and a majority of that number must vote in favor of a motion to abate. The listers, while they are members of the board, may also want to rs they may not be considered part of the board, testify in defense of their actions, and if this occu make a majority. If the listers participate as which will require that more members be present to met if the town members of the board, a quorum of th e board of abatement may also be treasurer, a majority of the listers and a majority of the selectboard members are present at the meeting. 24 V.S.A. § 1533. Note that unlike most municipal boards, the board of abatement acts with a concurrence of a majority of the quorum of the board! 3

4 Conflict of interest. The board of abatement is a quasi -judicial board. Accordingly, the 12 V.S.A. § 61(a). prohibitions found in law on acting with a conflict of interest will apply. A person should not participate on the board in any matter where they have a real or financial interest (i.e. if it involves thei r own property or property of a re lative, a friend or an enemy.) capacity if a person “is interested in the event Specifically, § 61(a) proscribes acting in a judicial of such cause or matter, or is re lated to either party, if a natural person, within the fourth degree if a corporation, to any officer, director, trustee, or agent thereof of consanguinity or affinity, or within such degree.” that applies to conflicts in ta x appeals, 32 V.S.A. § 4404(d), Note that the specific prohibition does not apply. This means that a person who is on the board and who seeks abatement of their own taxes could remain on the board. However, th is board member should excuse him or herself from the room when his or her own property co mes up for consideration. Once that decision is over the member may retake his or her seat. Board of abatement meetings. Meetings of the board of abat ement must be publicly noticed by naming the board, as well as the time, date and place of the meeting, and its purpose. The warning is the same five-day personal and poste d notice as is required for the board of civil authority, but personal notice must be sent as well to the treasurer, at least one of the listers, and the applicants for abatement. The board must elect its own chair, usually as the first order of business once it meets during the year. 24 V.S.A. § 1534. Generally, the chair of the board simply asks the taxpayer to explain why they ar e seeking abatement. The board should ask as many questions of the taxpayer as it needs to feel like it has enough in formation to make a decision in the matter. The board may reque st the taxpayer produce personal financial information, information about insuran ce, photographs, medical bills, etc. A taxpayer is not required to attend the board of abatement meeting. If a taxpayer requests abatement of taxes in writing, for one of the r easons set forth in the statute, the board of abatement must meet at some time to consider the request. 24 V.S.A. § 1535 . While a taxpayer has the right to attend the meeting or to have a re presentative act on his beha lf at the meeting, if a taxpayer has made a written request for abat ement which states the reason and supporting information for the abatement request, the stat ute does not require personal attendance by the told that the board may want additional information, or the taxpayer. The taxpayer should be on presented at the meeting, but if the taxpayer taxpayer may want to respond to other informati chooses not to attend, the board mu st still consider the request a nd take action to abate or deny. The open meeting law . A board of abatement meeting is a quasi-judicial proceeding that falls 1 V.S.A. § 312. This means that members of the public may observe under the open meeting law. the taxpayer, a lister or possibly someone else the proceedings but the board may only hear from from the town government, and anyone called as a witness or asked by the board to provide information. All evidence must be received in the hearing (there may be no ex parte communications.) Since the decisi after the board hears all of the evidence on must be in writing, it may meet in a closed session to deliberate and decide whether to grant the abatement. This closed session is a deliberativ e session, and it is exempt from the requirements of the open meeting law. 1 V.S.A. § 312(e ). 4

5 The decision. in an abatement matter be made in Vermont law requires that any decision 24 V.S.A. § 1535(c). writing. The board must state in detail the reasons for its decision. The board's abatement of an amount of tax shall automatically abate a ny uncollected interest and fees 24 V.S.A. § 1535(b). The board may order that any abatement as to an relating to that amount. a refund or in the form of a credit against the amount or amounts already paid be in the form of tax for the next ensuing tax year, and for succeedi ng tax years if required to use up the amount of the credit. Whenever a municipality votes to collect interest on overdue taxes pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5136, interest in a like amount shall be ny person for whom an abatement paid by the municipality to a has been ordered. Interest on taxes paid and s ubsequently abated shall accrue from the date payment was due or made, whichever is later. However, abatements issued pursuant to subdivision (a)(5) of this section (property lost or destroyed during the tax year) need not include the payment of interest. Taxes from prior years. There is no limit as to how far a board of abatement may go when it abates taxes. The board of abatement may abate, in whole or in part, taxes from prior years so long as one of the statutory reason s for granting abatement applies. 24 V.S.A. § 1535(a). Board of abatement can abate only interest and penalty. In 2012, the Vermont General Assembly amended 24 V.S.A. § 1535(a) and (c) to allow the board of abatement to “abate in or ly, the statute did not allow the whole or part taxes, interest, collection fees . . .”. Previous board of abatement to abate only interest or coll ection fees. By amending the law, the legislature has conferred greater flexibility upon propert y owners and boards of abatement. When a refund has been ordered, the bo ard shall draw an order on the town After the decision. treasurer for payment. The board of abatement sh all make a record of taxes, interest and fees abated which shall be recorded in the office of the town clerk and a certified copy shall be forwarded forthwith to the collector of taxes and the town treasurer. The collector shall mark in the tax bill the taxes, interest and fees abated and the persons against whom they were assessed shall be discharged from their payment. An abat ement of a use change tax shall be separately recorded in the land records of th e municipality in which the prope rty subject to the abatement is located and shall affect a rele ase of the land use lien on the portion of the property abated. 24 V.S.A. § 1536. 5

6 Limits on the board of abatement’s discretion . The board is never required to grant a t grant abatement in all cases. It only has the particular abatement. However, the board may no xpayer falls within the st atutory criteria of 24 power to grant abatement if it finds that the ta V.S.A. §1535(a). e or part taxes, intere § 1535(a) provides that the board may abate in whol st, or collection fees accruing to the town in the following cases: (1) taxes of persons who have died insolvent; (2) taxes of persons who have removed from the state; (3) taxes of persons who are unable to pay their taxes, interest, and collection fees; (4) taxes in which there is manifest error or a mistake of the listers; (5) taxes upon real or personal property lost or destroyed during the tax year; (6) the exemption amount avai lable under 32 V.S.A. § 3802( 11) to persons otherwise eligible for exemption who file a claim on or after May 1 but before October 1 due to the claimant's sickness or disability or othe r good cause as determined by the board of abatement; but that exemption amount shal l be reduced by 20 pe rcent of the total exemption for each month or portion of a month the claim is late filed. (7), (8) [Repealed.] (9) taxes upon a mobile home moved from th e town during the tax year as a result of a change in use of the mobile home park land or parts thereof, or closure of the mobile home park in which the mobile home was sited, pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 6237. The reasons that justify abatement deserve cl oser consideration. When a taxpayer has died insolvent, has removed from the state or is unabl e to pay the tax, interest and collection fees are often the harder cases. In these cases, the motive for abatement is the difficulty of collection or compassion for one who, because of unfortunate ci rcumstances, is temporarily unable to pay his ld to raise enough mone or her taxes. Indeed, while property can be so y to pay for delinquent taxes (unless it is without value), the difficulty comes when that means turning someone out of his or her home. In our experience, boards are reluctant to grant abat ement for these reasons. vor the poor taxpayer if there is no reason to Equity constrains them from decisions that fa e need for abatement are temporary. Property does believe that the problems that have led to th not always equal wealth, of course; being land poor is nothing new to some people in most Vermont communities. Boards will more ofte n abate in situations where a temporary circumstance has created the inability to pay, like a costly illness in the family, or when a parcel of land is going through probate and it is uncer tain who will be the ultimate beneficiary. e the most utilized. One is where there is a The two following statutory reasons for abatement ar manifest error or a mistake of the listers. (Note that this reason really includes two different reasons for abatement: a manifest error made by anyone, not necessarily the listers or a town official, or a mistake made by the listers.) The ot her is when property has been lost or destroyed during the tax year. Here we are dealing more squarely with basic fairness, with the constitutional principle of propor tional contribution as applied to the tax system. If a mistake has been made, someone should correct it. If the error is in the quality of appraisal, boards tend to be less sympathetic, because abatement should never take the place of the grievance and appeal process. If the property has been lost or de stroyed, abatement seems justified if the board 6

7 recognizes the arbitrariness of the legal standard that what counts is what you own on April 1 operty sells, taxes are apportioned according to and not on any other day of the year. When pr how much of the tax year beginning April 1 the seller has owned the property. Sometimes that process helps make sense of abatement based on lost or destroyed property; sometimes that argument is not convincing. The board of abatement can only exercise thos e powers specifically delegated by statute, and cannot exceed those powers. 24 V.S.A. § 1535 provides the complete list of reasons for only reasons that local property taxes can be abatement of local property taxes. These are the abated. If a local property taxpaye r wants to challenge the assessment or fair market value listing appeal process is available to the taxpayer every April. of his property, a property tax Decisions of the board are final. fic route of appeal from a Title 24 does not provide a speci believes the board of abatement has abused its decision by the board of abatement. If a taxpayer request, case law in Vermont suggests that an appeal can be discretion in denying his or her taken through Rule 74 or Rule 75 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Appeals taken under these the proceedings below for abuse of discretion, rules are not de novo and generally only review but the avenue for a limited appeal does exist despite the silence in the statute. However, the Vermont Supreme Court has held that abatement requests cannot be a substitute for an appeal of a property assessment by the listers which must be appealed through the grievance and tax appeal process. Correction of lister errors. There is another process, in lieu of abatement, that towns could use ement. In 32 V.S.A. § 4261, the listers may to accomplish many of the same purposes as abat nd list with the approval of th e selectboard, before December 31 correct obvious errors in the gra of each year. Many situations that look like they might have abatement as their remedy--such as double entries, double or overpayments, and payments on property belonging to another--can be s to the selectboard, so long as the listers agree that these are resolved by a visit from the lister obvious errors. The board of abatement ought to be used for cont ested abatement issues, where the listers object to the claim of the taxpayer. Successful tax appeal for current year does not mean abatement of prior year’s taxes. An appeal by a taxpayer of his or her appraisal is ent year’s tax bill. A a challenge of the curr successful appeal which results in a lower apprai sal for the current year’s taxes does not entitle the taxpayer to a refund of taxes paid in prior years, even if those payments were based on an appraised amount which has now been reduced. While not entitled to a ref und, there is nothing to stop the taxpayer from seeking abatement of the taxes paid in the prior years at the higher appraisal amount; however, the board of abatemen t is not required to grant abatement. 7

8 Notice of tax sale should include notice of A recent right to apply for abatement of taxes. superior court decision ordered a to wn to return property obtained at tax sale because it believed the town violated the taxpayer's right to due process by not clearly notif ying the person of her right to seek an abatement of the taxes. The f act that the town included a copy of the abatement statute with the notice of sale was not deemed sufficient to satisfy due process. Although a decision of the Superior Court is not binding on other courts, it is advisable that towns conducting tax sales avoid the challenge and in clude a notice of the right to request an abatement. 24 V.S.A § 1535 sets out a number of circumstances in which a board of abatement Conclusion. may choose to abate the taxes of a property owne r. The statute does not require abatement under any circumstances, and the courts have affirmed th e board’s right to exerci se discretion in these matters. Abatement is meant to be an equitable remedy, used only in the most unusual cases - as in a fire or where a survivor is temporarily unable to access the asse ts of an estate while it is in probate. It is not meant to be a way for the town to subsidize taxpayers who can no longer afford the taxes on their property. On occasion the delinque nt tax collector may request an abatement to clear up his or her records when a delinquent ta x payer cannot be found or if the taxpayer's x payer has no other assets to be taken. property has no value and the delinquent ta 8

9 Abatement Case Studies because there is so little a board must do and Abatement is discretionary, and that makes it hard, only sets up the procedural framework for these so much it could do if it were inclined. The law decisions; the board of abatemen t is responsible for deciding wh ether taxpayers are worthy of exemption. Exemption by abatement means that th e taxes formerly paid or to be paid by a rtionately by all the remaini property owner are now borne propo ng taxpayers of the town, and this cost shifting is not always popular, especially if the public reaction to the abatement decision is not as sympathetic as the board was in deci ding to grant the reli ef requested. Because abatement decisions are not black and white, we decided it would be helpful to learn about abatement by considering specific examples. The following examples are all based on real experience, and were used in tr atement. We are providing you aining exercises for boards of ab with the facts that in a board of abatement hearing you would have to elicit from the witnesses. Case 1: The first case involves a new resident of town. He purchased hi s property in May. His name is not listed on the grand list as owning pr operty in town. The name the grand list has for his property is that of the sell er, the one who owned it on April 1. Our new resident tells us, after being sworn to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that he never received his tax bill. He was ready and willing to pay, but the only no tice he received was a call from the delinquent tax collector telling him he would have to pay no t only the taxes but penalty and interest, and he does not think this is fair. The way he figures it, if you do not get notice you do not have to pay. He will take the notice tonight, and pay his tax bill right now, but he does not think he should have to pay penalty and interest because it is not his fault that he never received the tax bill. to the seller. The new resident says he called Where did it go? The treasurer tells us it was sent the seller, and the seller acknowledged receiving the bill but said he threw it away because he did e town or sending it along to the not own that property any more. He never thought of alerting th new owner. The listers remind us that it is not their fault, th at the law requires them to change the names in the grand list book only once a year, just ahead of the opening da y of tax season, so that the grand list reflects property owne rship as of April 1. Some towns make allowances for new owners; the treasurer is careful to send a copy of a tax bill to people who purchase property after April 1 and before the tax due date; but not our town. The fact is the taxpayer never received a copy of the bill until it went delinquent. The ta xpayer asks for abatement based on the fourth of the five reasons - that a manifest error has been made--not by the listers, the treasurer, or any town official, but by the seller. When this case study was used in training each of th e four groups that tried this exercise refused to grant relief in this case. They argued that every citizen has a responsibility to know when and what taxes are due, and an obligation to inquire about a tax bill that does not arrive. The groups argued that no manifest error had been made by town officials and refused to accept the argument that taxpayer error (or former taxpayer error) would suffice. They were convinced that the taxpayer should have known about town taxes at the very least from the closing, where he ller for the month of April. received tax money from the se 9

10 Case 2. overed that, after receiv ing her tax bill, the The second case is that of a widow who disc emption of $10,000 she and her late husband had town had not factored in the veteran’s ex received for the last ten years because of his disability. She had paid the tax bill because she did not want to appear on any delinquent list, but sh e does not think it is fair that the town should advantage of her vulnerab ility. Her husband died change the basis of her property taxes and take shock and grief many months later. During that in April, and she was still recovering from the hard few months the Veterans Administration had sent her the exemption form that she was supposed to have filed with the town on or befo re May 1, but somehow with all of the confusion that followed her loss the exemption slip was lost. The town did not lose it; she just never sent it in. She has a new exemption certificate now for fili the board simply to ng with the town and asks abate the taxes she paid on that $10,000 The widow goes on to describe how critical that tax money is for her. Her husband’s death was more than a personal loss it was a financial loss as well. She does not have any clear idea how she can make ends meet now. She would not want anyone to think she needs public assistance, but she does feel in this case sh e is entitled to the exemption, and that the lack of a timely certificate of exemption from the Veterans Admi nistration is a mere bureaucratic requirement that could be overlooked in these extreme circumstances. The board announces that it intends to grant the request for abatement, but then wonders how it can justify using manifest error wh en the error is not th at of a town official. Some suggest that the listers ought to have seen that the certificate was missing well in advance of the May 1 deadline and called the widow to s ee about getting it to them on time, but the listers say this is not their job and they are right. They even admit they would have done this in another year, they were otherwise preoccupied except that with the reappraisal this year. The board recognizes that it could use inability to pay, but frankly it’s not sure what it needs to justify this factually. accounts to the board. So it’s stuck. The widow is not keen on showing her Each of the four groups that tackled this problem voted the exemption. Some went for inability to pay based on her oral testimony; others accepte d manifest error in this case and maintained that it was different from the new resi dent who never received his tax bill. We think manifest error should work in this case. To justify it, we would back up to the lost tax bill case and reword the decision to remove the conc lusion that such errors must always be made by town officials to be valid. Sometimes a taxpaye r or the post office or some other individual besides the town can make a manifest error. W ith the lost tax bill we do not think there was manifest error, or if there was we do not think th at the kind of manifest error that resulted in nonpayment was of a type that would warrant ab atement. We would argue that just showing manifest error is not enough; it’s a threshold for that criterion fo r abatement, but other questions must be answered before a decision can be ma de. Here the manifest error was that of the nd without ambiguity; and it can be the basis taxpayer; it is manifest because it’s explicit, clear a of abatement because of the circumstances. 10

11 Case 3. The third case is an abatement request base d on property lost or destroyed during the tax ook down the oldest barn year. The big wind that came mysteriously out of the night on July 1 t is now before the board to ask for abatement in town. It was assessed at $30,000, and the farmer of three-quarters of the taxes on the barn, since it stood for only three months of the tax year. Questioned about the circumstances of his loss, the farmer testifies that his insurance covered the structure completely, that his ag ent handed him a check for the damage on the spot the morning after the storm, and that before August 1 he ha d rebuilt a much larger, newer structure that satisfied his needs completely. These last facts troubled some of the people who tried these exercises. While they recognized that the new barn could never be the subject of appraisal on th is year’s grand list because it wasn’t standing on April 1, some members of the boa stification they would rd felt that the only ju accept on this kind of case was when the farmer had to go without a barn or its value (by way of insurance payment) for three-quarters of a year. They equated use with taxability and felt that since he had that new barn he really did not de serve abatement, even th ough technically the new barn was not taxable. In the end, though some board members disagreed, the abatement was not granted. Case 4. The last case (number four) r abatement of penalty and involved a taxpayer who asked fo interest based on manifest error. For years the town had accepted taxes that were postmarked on licy changed. Only taxes actually received by or before the tax due date. This year the po current; the rest were treated as delinquent. midnight on the tax due date were regarded as nge of policy; it did not appear on the tax bill Unfortunately, no one thought to announce this cha or in the newspaper and was not brought up at town meeting. This taxpayer was one of those caught in the middle. She put her tax payment in the mail on Saturday (Monday was the tax due date) and it arrived on Wednesday. Sh e did not want to pay interest and penalty and she argued it was the town’s manifest error not to inform her of the change in policy. it is not his duty to give notice to anyone that he is going to The treasurer took umbrage. He said follow the law. The former practice of using pos tmarks was wrong; the to wn just did the right thing in changing to receipt as the basis of coll ection. He finds the sugges tion that there has been manifest error here to be unfair. The boards who considered this example uniformly favored the taxpayer. They felt that changes delinquency ought to be fully publicized, particularly on the tax in collection policies that affect bill itself. She got her abatement of taxes equal to penalty and interest. 11

12 ABATEMENT The Law Abatement of Taxes. 24 V.S.A. 1533 - 1536 : §§ § 1533. Town board for the abatement of taxes The board of civil authority, with the listers and the town treasurer, shal l constitute a board for the abatement of town, town school district taxes, and current use taxes. The act of a majority of a quorum at a meeting shall be treated as the act of the board. The above requirement in respect a majority of the listers and a majority of the to a quorum need not be met if the town treasurer, selectmen are present at the meeting. (Amended 1999, No. 49, § 82, eff. June 2, 1999.) § 1534. Meetings; how notified Meetings of such board shall be notified like m eetings of the board of civil authority, except that at least one of the listers shall have personal notice of such meetings. § 1535. Abatement (a) The board may abate in whole or part taxes, inte es, other than those rest, or collection fe fication of homestead or nonresiden tial property, accruing to the arising out of a corrected classi town in the following cases: (1) taxes of persons who have died insolvent; (2) taxes of persons who have removed from the state; (3) taxes of persons who are unable to pay their taxes, interest, and collection fees; (4) taxes in which there is manifest error or a mistake of the listers; (5) taxes upon real or personal property lost or destroyed during the tax year; (6) the exemption amount avai lable under 32 V.S.A. § 3802( 11) to persons otherwise eligible for exemption who file a claim on or after May 1 but before October 1 due to the claimant's sickness or disability or other good cause as determined by the board of abatement; but that exemption amount shall be reduced by 20 percent of the total exemption for each month or portion of a month the claim is late filed. (7), (8) [Repealed.] (9) taxes upon a mobile home moved from the town during the tax year as a result of a change in use of the mobile home park land or parts thereof, or closure of the mobile home park in which the mobile home was sited, pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 6237. tax shall automatically abate any uncollected (b) The board's abatement of an amount of interest and fees relating to that amount. 12

13 (c) The board shall, in any case in which it abates taxes, interest, or co llection fees accruing to state in detail in writing the reasons for its the town, or denies an application for abatement, decision. (d) The board may order that any abatement as to an amount or amounts already paid be in the nst the tax for the next form of a refund or in the form of a credit agai ensuing tax year, and for succeeding tax years if required to use up the am ount of the credit. Whenever a municipality votes to collect interest on overdue taxes pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5136, interest in a like amount shall be paid by the municipality to any person for whom an abatement has been ordered. Interest on taxes paid and subsequently abated shall accrue from the da te payment was due or made, whichever is later. However, abatements issued )(5) of this section pursuant to subdivision (a need not include the payment of interest. When a refund has been ordered, the board shall draw an order on the town treasurer for such paym ent. (Amended 1975, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1989, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 24, 1990; 1991, No. 19; 1995, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1999, No. 49, § 83, eff. June 2, 1999; 1999, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. May 29, 2000; 2001, No. 140 (Adj. Sess.), § 30, eff. June 21, 2002; 2003, No. 76 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Feb. 17, 2004; 2005, No. 14, §§ 6, 7, eff. May 3, 2005; 2011, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.) § 1536. Record; discharge The board for the abatement of taxes shall make a record of taxes, intere st and fees so abated which shall be recorded in the office of the town clerk and a certified copy shall be forwarded forthwith to the collector of taxes and the town treasurer. The collector shall mark in the tax bill rsons against whom they were assessed shall be the taxes, interest and fees abated and the pe discharged from their payment. An abatement of a separately recorded in use change tax shall be the land records of the municipal ity in which the property subject to the abatement is located and shall effect a release of the land use lien on the portion of the property abated. (Amended 1989, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 24, 1990; 1999, No. 49, § 84, eff. June 2, 1999.) 16 V.S.A. § 514. Abatement The officers of the district, except the collector, shall be a board for the abatement of district taxes, and it shall have the same power which th e board for the abatement of town taxes has in the abatement of such taxes. On request of the collector, the prudential committee shall call a meeting of such board in the month of February in each year, by posting a notice thereof in three t five days before such meeting. public places in such district at leas 13

14 Sample Notice To Taxpayer requested abatement. tice to those who have The following memo might be included in the no eed and what to expect when they reach the The memo gives parties some idea of how to proc hearing. You have requested that the Board of Abatemen t abate some or all of your property taxes your request for abatement at the Town in the Town of _______. The Board will hear Office at ___ on _______________. You may appear either in person or by a representative to give testimony in support of your request. If you are unable to attend itten information in support of your request. Whether you are feel free to submit wr present or not, the board will still consider your abatement request. eving taxpayers from the burden of property Abatement is a statutory process for reli taxes, interest or collection fees when the law authorizes abatement and when the Board, in its discretion, agrees that the request is reasonable and proper. The Board is never The board may only grant abatement for required to grant a particular abatement. reasons that are permitted in 24 V.S.A. § 1535(a). In preparing your case before the Board, you should remember that you carry the burden of proving that abatement is necessary in your case. You will be sworn in at the beginning of the consideration of your case, and you may want to present written evidence or other witnesses to support your case. Good pre paration in advance of the ng and help the Board understand the nature of Board’s meeting will expedite the heari your request for abatement. obably essential to your case. If your request for abatement A copy of your tax bill is pr x, you should also arrange w ith the listers to get a copy involves the personal property ta of your inventory form that you submitted in the spring. A review of the listers’ card on your real estate, if that is the subject of your abatement reque st, may also be of great use to you. Talking to the listers help prepare you for their about your request may also reaction on the night of the hearing. Remember, the Board of Abatement can only consider requests that fall within the categories of statutory reasons for abatem ent. The Board’s authority should not be confused with that of the Boar d of Civil Authority, in its ta x appeal role, where issues of comparability and equity are involved. No r should you assume that the Board of a tax bill simply because you do not like Abatement has any authority to relieve you of the amount of taxes owed. 14

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