Independent School Dist. No. 9 of Tulsa County v. Glass

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Independent School Dist. No. 9 of Tulsa County v. Glass
1982 OK 2
639 P.2d 1233
Case Number: 53634
Decided: 01/12/1982
Supreme Court of Oklahoma

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 9 OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, A PUBLIC BODY CORPORATE, APPELLANT,
v.
WILSON GLASS, IN HIS CAPACITY AS COUNTY ASSESSOR OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, AND AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TAX ROLL CORRECTIONS; RICHARD WARNER, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE TULSA COUNTY BOARD OF TAX ROLL CORRECTIONS; TERRY YOUNG, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TULSA COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND AS CHAIRMAN OF THE TULSA COUNTY BOARD OF TAX ROLL CORRECTIONS; JOHN CANTRELL, IN HIS CAPACITY AS TULSA COUNTY TREASURER; AND ANITA NESBITT, IN HER CAPACITY AS TULSA COUNTY CLERK, APPELLEES,
and
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, TULSA JUNIOR COLLEGE, THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, ON BEHALF OF THE TULSA CITY-COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, ON BEHALF OF THE TULSA CITY-COUNTY LIBRARY, AND THE CITY OF TULSA, APPELLEE AND APPELLANT INTERVENORS.

Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County; B.R. Beasley, Judge.

¶0 Appellant appeals from the refusal of the district court to enter a permanent injunction prohibiting the refund of personal property tax which had been erroneously taxed under the freeport exemption pursuant to Okla.Const.art. 10, § 6A .

AFFIRMED.

Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold by J. Douglas Mann, Tulsa, for appellant.

Dyer, Powers, Marsh, Turner & Armstrong by Thomas G. Marsh, Tulsa, for appellees and cross appellants, Ford Motor Co. and Wilson Glass, Tulsa County Assessor.

HODGES, Justice.

[639 P.2d 1235]

¶1 The question presented is whether Ford Motor Company (Ford), appellee and appellant intervenor, was the recipient of an erroneous tax refund based on a "freeport exemption," pursuant to the Okla.Const.art. 10, § 6A .

¶2 Ford is a Delaware corporation licensed to do business in Oklahoma. It operates a glass manufacturing plant in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, within the boundaries of Independent School District No. 9, appellant. A portion of Ford's inventory during the 1977 tax year consisted of goods, wares and merchandise purchased outside of Oklahoma and shipped to its Oklahoma plant. This merchandise was held for manufacturing and then shipped, within less than nine months to points outside of Oklahoma. In 1977, Ford did not file a personal property tax return or a written list of its taxable personal property located within Tulsa County before March 15, 1977, as required by 68 O.S. 1971 § 2431 .

¶3 On or before the third Monday in June, 1977, the county assessor submitted his abstract of the tax assessment rolls to the State Board of Equalization. No changes were made in the assessed value of Ford's personal property. A certificate of valuation covering Ford's property was issued to the county assessor, who sent a copy to the Tulsa County treasurer. The treasurer submitted an ad valorem tax bill to Ford for $1,265,307.93. This statement included a 10% penalty for late filing. Ford paid one-half of the taxes on January 3, 1978, and the balance on April 3, 1978.

¶4 Ford filed a complaint of erroneous assessment and petition for correction of its 1977 personal property taxes with the Tulsa County Board of Tax-Roll Corrections September 26, 1978, seeking a refund of $83,784.01. Ford claimed that a part of its inventory for 1977, was exempt from taxation under the "freeport exemption." Ford had not claimed the exemption, nor requested the Tulsa County Board of Equalization to review or cancel it prior to filing the complaint. The county assessor notified Ford on October 10, 1978 that his office had determined that the refund should be $92,167.97.

¶5 The Board of Tax-Roll Corrections met to hear Ford's refund request, December 12, 1978. After considering Ford's unreasonable delay and/or fault in discovering and claiming the refund, the Board of Tax-Roll Corrections voted two-to-one to grant Ford's refund request. The refund was increased from $83,784.01 to $92,167.97. It was conceded by all parties at the time of trial that the proper amount of the refund, if owing, is $92,167.97.

¶6 The District sought a temporary and permanent injunction to prevent the payment of the refund to Ford. A temporary restraining order was entered by the trial court, but it was dismissed and the permanent injunction denied on April 6, 1979.

¶7 It is asserted by the School District that the tax refund was illegal because Ford failed to follow proper procedures and voluntary payment of taxes on exempt property does not justify a refund. Ford counters by contending that the School District has no standing to prosecute the appeal and that it may not collaterally attack the decision of the Board of Tax-Roll Corrections. Because the issue of standing is critical to [639 P.2d 1237] the prosecution of the appeal by the District, it must be resolved before the merits can be reached.

I

¶8 Standing has traditionally been defined as whether a party has a sufficient interest in an otherwise justiciable controversy to obtain judicial resolution of the controversy. If reliance is not placed on any specific statute authorizing invocation of the judicial process, the question of standing depends upon whether the party has alleged a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.

¶9 A litigant must have the capacity to sue in order to be entitled to injunctive relief. When a remedy for any particular wrong or injury has been provided by statute, generally no redress can be afforded by injunction. In the absence of a constitutional violation, before a statutory remedy will preclude a suit for injunctive relief, the statutory provision must provide for a speedy, complete, convenient and beneficial relief. If the statutory remedy is obviously inadequate, injunction may lie.

¶10 A violation of a state statute is an injury to the State and its citizens. A continuing violation is an irreparable injury for which injunctive relief is available.

[639 P.2d 1238]

¶11 We agree with the District that it has standing to seek injunctive relief. The District has an interest in the subject matter, the capacity to sue, and the power to protect and prevent the wrongful disposition of revenues.

II

¶12 The District asserts that Ford is not entitled to a refund of personal property taxes because it failed to show good cause for failing to appear before the Board of Equalization prior to filing its claim with the Board of Tax-Roll Corrections. It argues that failure to follow the statutory guidelines places Ford in a fatal procedural posture. Ford counters that showing good cause is not a requirement if the property is constitutionally exempt. We must agree with Ford.

¶13 Property is never exempt from taxation except by a special and definite provision of law.

III

¶14 Section 2479 provides that a taxpayer who has paid taxes erroneously or mistakenly may file for a refund any time within one year of the payment of the tax. Failure to assert the claim within the prescribed period may terminate the right to claim the exemption.

¶15 Inventory of goods, wares and merchandise owned by a manufacturer and shipped to a manufacturer within the state from outside the state which are processed by the manufacturer within nine months are constitutionally exempt from personal property taxation.

¶16 The Board is incorrect in asserting that the time of filing of the rendition is determinative of the issue. The statute, § 2479, clearly provides that the critical time period is less than one year after the payment of the tax. Ford claimed reimbursement within one year of payment. The taxes were paid in January and April of 1978 and reimbursement was timely sought in September, 1978.

IV

¶17 The District also argues that Ford was required to exhaust its remedies before the Tulsa County Board of Equalization. We cannot agree. The Board of Tax-Roll Corrections has jurisdiction to determine if a taxable unit is exempt from ad valorem taxation. One of the purposes of § 2479 is to eliminate the necessity of payment of taxes under protest where notice is not received that exempt property has been assessed until after the Board of Corrections has adjourned.

¶18 AFFIRMED.

¶19 BARNES, V.C.J., and SIMMS, DOOLIN and HARGRAVE, JJ., concur.

¶20 OPALA, J., concurs in part, dissents in part.

¶21 IRWIN, C.J., and LAVENDER, J., dissent.

Footnotes:

1 The property was tangible personal property used in the construction of automobiles and excluded from ad valorem taxation by the Okla. Const.art. 10, § 6A , which provides:

"All property consigned to a consignee in this State from outside this State to be forwarded to a point outside this State, which is entitled under the tariffs, rules and regulations approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission to be forwarded at through rates from the point of origin to the point of destination, if not detained within this State for a period of more than ninety (90) days, shall be deemed to be property moving in interstate commerce, and no such property shall be subject to taxation in this State; provided, that goods, wares and merchandise whether or not moving on through rates, shall be deemed to move in interstate commerce, and not subject to taxation in this State if not detained more than nine (9) months where such goods, wares and merchandise are so held for assembly, storage, manufacturing, processing or fabricating purposes; provided, further, that personal property consigned for sale within this State must be assessed as any other personal property."

2 If a taxpayer fails to meet the county assessor and list his property on the date advertised, he may, pursuant to 68 O.S. 1971 § 2431 , list his property on forms prescribed by the Tax Commission on or before March 15.

3 Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S. Ct. 691, 703, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663, 678 (1962).

4 It is provided by the ultimate paragraph of 68 O.S.Supp. 1974 § 2479 :

"Both the taxpayer and the county assessor shall have the right of appeal from any order of the Board of Tax-Roll Corrections to the District Court of the same county. In case of appeal the trial in the District Court shall be de novo."

5 Baker v. Lloyd, 198 Okl. 512, 179 P.2d 913, 915 (1947); City of Independence v. Hindenach, 144 Kan. 414, 61 P.2d 124, 128 (1936).

6 Warth v. Sedlin, 422 U.S. 490, 499, 95 S. Ct. 2197, 2205, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 355 (1975).

7 Semke v. State, 465 P.2d 441, 445 (Okl. 1970).

8 Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 732, 92 S. Ct. 1361, 1364, 31 L. Ed. 2d 636 (1972).

9 Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization, 426 U.S. 26, 96 S. Ct. 1917, 48 L. Ed. 2d 450 (1976); Association of Data Processing Service Organization, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 90 S. Ct. 827, 25 L. Ed. 2d 184 (1970); Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421-22, 89 S. Ct. 1843, 1848-49, 23 L. Ed. 2d 404, 417 (1969); Baker v. Carr, supra.

10 School Dist. No. 74, Kingfisher Co. v. Long, 2 Okl. 460, 37 P. 601 (1894).

11 Okl.Const.art. 5, § 50 .

City of Idabel v. School Dist. No. 5 of McCurtain County, 434 P.2d 285, 287 (Okl. 1967).

12 City of Hartshorne v. Dickinson, 207 Okl. 305, 249 P.2d 422, 424 (1952).

13 Williams v. City of Norman, 85 Okl. 230, 205 P. 144, 147 (1922).

14 County Assessor, Okla. Co. v. United Broth. of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local No. 329, 202 Okl. 162, 211 P.2d 790, 794 (1949).

15 See Cox v. Dillingham, 199 Okl. 161, 184 P.2d 976, 980 (1947).

16 It is provided by 68 O.S.Supp. 1974 § 2479 (17)(2) in pertinent part:

"If, prior to such hearing by the Board as aforesaid, the tax has been paid, no certificate shall issue; but if less than one (1) year shall have elapsed after the payment of the tax and before the filing of such application for correction of error, and after such hearing the findings of fact disclose that less tax was due to have been paid than was paid, then the person who paid the tax, or his heirs, successors, or assigns, may execute a case voucher claim setting forth facts and findings, verify it, and file it with the county clerk, who shall thereupon deliver such claim to the county treasurer for designation of the fund from which the claim must be paid and approval of the claim as to availability of funds by the county treasurer."

17 Colbert v. Roodhouse, 279 P.2d 349, 354 (Okl. 1955) cert. den'd 349 U.S. 939, 75 S. Ct. 782, 99 L. Ed. 1266 (1955).

18 In the Matter of the Assessment of 1969 of Cresent Precision Products, Inc., 514 P.2d 933, 935 (Okl. 1973).

19 Williams v. City of Norman, 147 supra.

20 St. John's Church v. Los Angeles Co., 5 Cal. App. 2d 235, 42 P.2d 1093, 1095 (1935).

21 City of Hartshorne v. Dickinson, supra.