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Yen, LLC v. Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.

2021 COA 107. No. 20CA0516. Real Property Tax Valuations—Corrections.

August 12, 2021

The Jefferson County (County) tax assessor mailed a timely notice of valuation (NOV) to Yen valuing Yen’s commercial real property at $99,715. The assessor later determined that the NOV undervalued Yen’s property and mailed a second NOV after the statutory deadline (corrected NOV) that nearly tripled the assessed value in the original NOV. Yen timely protested the valuation in the corrected NOV, and the assessor denied the protest. Yen then petitioned for an abatement or refund with the County. The County denied the petition, and Yen appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which concluded that the corrected NOV was void.

On appeal, the County argued that the BAA erred by voiding the corrected NOV. The County contended that it had the authority under CRS § 39-5-125(2) to send a corrected NOV at any time before it delivered the tax warrant to the state treasurer in January of the following year. However, assessors do not have broad constitutional authority to correct any and all errors. Under CRS § 39-5-125(2), assessors may only correct “errors in the assessment roll.” Here, all parties agreed that when the County sent the corrected NOV, the assessment roll had not yet been created and the County was not correcting an error in the assessment roll. Therefore, the County had no authority to issue the corrected NOV.

The County also contended that it had plenary constitutional authority to correct valuation errors. However, the Constitution does not contain self-implementing authority for county assessors but instead expressly requires that statutes govern the rules of property taxation. And as stated above, the County did not have the statutory authority to self-correct the valuation.

The County further argued that the Court of Appeals’ construction leads to an improper windfall for Yen. However, such considerations do not allow the Court to rewrite statutes.

The order was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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