BillTracker

Improving and updating administrative provisions related to the board of tax appeals (Jinkins)

Changes the composition of the board of tax appeals and updates the administrative provisions of the board.

EFFECT OF HOUSE FLOOR AMENDMENT:
(1) Authorizes the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) to grant a stay of collections pending an appeal. (2) Authorizes a direct appeal from the BTA to the Court of Appeals in certain circumstances. (3) Authorizes the BTA to grant attorneys fees to a prevailing party in an appeal against the Department of Revenue or the Board of Equalization during a formal hearing under certain circumstances.

SENATE COMMITTEE (Law & Justice) STRIKER AMENDMENT
(1) The Board must maintain at least five tax referees, two must be licensed members of the state bar, and three must be state-certified real estate appraisers. (2) Removes the authority of the Board to stay collections of tax assessments pending an appeal before the Board. Clarifies that the Board may issue findings related to an award of attorneys' fees and costs. Removes provisions authorizing a direct appeal from the Board to the Court of Appeals.

SENATE FLOOR AMENDMENTS:
The Board of Tax Appeals may award attorney fees and expenses to a prevailing qualified party when the party is appealing a decision of a Board of Equalization; the Board of Tax Appeals must award attorney fees and expenses to a prevailing qualified party when the party is appealing a decision of the Department of Revenue.

PARTIAL VETO MESSAGE
I am returning herewith, without my approval as to Sections 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, Engrossed House Bill No. 2777 entitled: “AN ACT Relating to improving and updating administrative provisions related to the board of tax appeals.”

Section 6 mandates the number of tax referees the Board must maintain. I have concerns that mandating the Board to hire a specific number of staff could change the Board’s ability to be flexible with future budgetary decisions needed to reduce the backlog.

Section 8 requires the Board to hold regular meetings on both sides of the Cascade. Although I agree with providing this access, we must continue to work towards using technology to find other ways of convening and providing access to all citizens.

Section 11 requires the Department of Revenue to adhere to precedential rulings by the Board of Tax Appeals, but does not differentiate between formal and informal proceedings. This leaves open the possibility for precedential rulings handed down by the Board of Tax Appeals that are exempt from appeals.

Section 17 mandates settlement conferences and providing a mediation process. I have concerns with the practical application of requiring attendance at a settlement conference. The Board of Tax Appeals is able to offer voluntary mediation services, per stakeholder demands, without requiring legislation.

Section 18 requires the Board to award attorney’s fees and costs. Typically, the authority to grant attorney’s fees and costs is limited to courts and not given to one executive agency with respect to another. There also appears to be an unintended drafting error that would require local boards of equalization to pay attorney's fees and expenses rather than the county assessor which is party to the action.

Finally, the Department of Revenue and Office of the Attorney General will have a fiscal impact of $1.2 million in fiscal year 2019 and $2.2 million in the 2019-21 biennium. Both agencies did not receive the funding needed to fulfill the duties of this bill in the 2018 Supplemental Budget

For these reasons I have vetoed Sections 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18 of Engrossed House Bill No. 2777. With the exception of Sections 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, Engrossed House Bill No. 2777 is approved.

Hearing Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 -- 10:00 am

WA State Legislature Link:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2777&Year=2017    (opens a new browser tab)