Wisconsin Supreme Court
Equal protection; property taxes
2007 Wis. Act 86, which allows municipalities to opt out of de novo review of property tax assessments, violates the equal protection clause.
“[T]he Board of Review process suffers other shortcomings when compared to a de novo action. For one, the Board of Review procedure under Act 86 allows the taxpayer access to the assessor’s trial exhibits a mere ten days prior to their hearing. Wis. Stat. ß 70.47(13).
“The appropriate time for the taxpayer to depose the assessor would be in this ten-day period after the taxpayer has received the assessor’s report that will be introduced during the Board of Review hearing.
“Additionally, Act 86 requires that taxpayers in opt out municipalities show ‘good cause’ in order to depose the assessor. ß 70.47(8)(d). Therefore, in this ten-day pre-hearing period, the taxpayer would need to obtain a finding of ‘good cause’ from a Board of Review composed of individuals untrained in the law, depose the assessor, review and analyze all of the assessor’s trial exhibits, and prepare to argue their case.
“Further, during this ten-day pre-hearing period, the taxpayer would be attempting to discover other evidence that may refute the assessorís valuation. De novo trials, on the other hand, do not operate under such restrictive timelines and the discovery process is governed by a judge, not a lay citizen. Nankin, 245 Wis. 2d 86, ∂31. Nankin’s concern that the Board of Review would develop an ‘incomplete or inadequate record’ remains unanswered. Id., ∂29.”
2009AP524 Metropolitan Associates v. City of Milwaukee
Attorneys: For Appellant: Moschella, Vincent D., Milwaukee; For Respondent: Gordon, Robert L., Milwaukee; Marcuvitz, Alan, Milwaukee; Roschke, Andrea H., Milwaukee; Sager, Susan M., Milwaukee