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Robinson v. Morgan

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 2, 2017

MARLENA ROBINSON
v.
ED MORGAN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE COMMISSIONER OF REVENUE OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/2016

         HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM H. SINGLETARY

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: JAMES GARY McGEE, JR. JON FRANCIS CARMER, JR. JOHN STEWART STRINGER

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JAMES GARY McGEE, JR. WILLIAM HARRISON WEBB

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JON FRANCIS CARMER, JR. JOHN STEWART STRINGER

          BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., KITCHENS AND MAXWELL, JJ.

          DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Before January 1, 2015, Mississippi Code Section 27-77-7 required taxpayers wishing to appeal tax assessments affirmed by the Board of Tax Appeals to post surety bonds for half the assessed taxes or pay the taxes under protest.[1] But the Legislature amended the statute to remove that bonding requirement for appeals from assessments imposed after the amendment's effective date of January 1, 2015.[2] Marlena Robinson failed to post a bond or pay her taxes when she appealed a February 4, 2014, tax assessment, so the chancellor dismissed her appeal. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Marlena Robinson and her former husband owned D&M Enterprises, LLC. D&M incurred sales and withholding tax liabilities throughout 2012 and 2013. But, in August 2013, D&M went out of business. So, on February 4, 2014, the Mississippi Department of Revenue assessed Robinson as the responsible person for the unpaid taxes.

         ¶3. Robinson challenged the assessment before the Department's Board of Review, claiming she was not responsible for D&M's fiscal management. The Board of Review upheld the assessment, as did the Board of Tax Appeals. So on June 1, 2015, Robinson appealed to the Chancery Court for the First Judicial District of Hinds County under Mississippi Code Section 27-77-7.

         ¶4. The Department moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing the chancery court lacked jurisdiction because Robinson had failed to post a surety bond or pay the assessed taxes. The chancellor granted the motion and Robinson appealed to this Court, arguing the chancellor erred because the pre-amendment bond or payment requirement should not apply to an appeal filed after the amendment's effective date.

         ANALYSIS

         ¶5. When "taxpayers fail[] to comply with the statutory requirements by either paying their taxes under protest before appealing, or posting a surety bond with their petition[, ] . . . the chancery court lack[s] ...


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