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Rush v. R & D Properties LLC

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 9, 2018

PATRICIA RUSH APPELLANT
v.
R & D PROPERTIES LLC APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/04/2017

          WINSTON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JOSEPH KILGORE JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAMES H. ARNOLD JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ROY GREGG ROGERS

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.

          CARLTON, J.

         ¶1. This appeal concerns the Winston County Chancery Court's denial of a petition to set aside a tax sale of property owned by Patricia Rush, located in Winston County, Mississippi. Patricia applied for a homestead exemption on the property in 2012. Her completed and filed application shows Patricia as the taxpayer, James H. Rush as her spouse, and Patricia's marital status as "married." Patricia signed the homestead exemption application and certified under penalty of perjury that the information it contained was correct. Patricia's 2013 homestead exemption was subsequently denied due to a charge-back for her ad valorem taxes due to James Rush's outstanding state income tax liability. Mississippi Code Annotated section 27-33-63(2) (Rev. 2010) establishes that no claimant for homestead exemption is eligible for the exemption if the claimant or claimant's spouse fails to comply with income tax laws of the State of Mississippi. When Patricia failed to pay the $551 in ad valorem taxes assessed for year 2013 due to the homestead exemption charge-back, Patricia's property was auctioned to R & D Properties LLC, at an August 2014 Winston County tax sale. The record reflects that Patricia was duly notified of her delinquent ad valorem taxes, the tax sale, and her right of redemption, but she failed to redeem her property within the time prescribed by law.

         ¶2. After expiration of the redemption period, however, Patricia filed a petition to set aside the tax sale in chancery court. At the September 2017 hearing on her petition, Patricia focused on how she completed her homestead application, instead of addressing the statutory requirements to obtain an exemption from her ad valorem taxes. She testified that when she filed for her homestead exemption, she told the clerk in the tax assessor's office that she was married, but that she and James Rush were "not together" because he had left her for her cousin. Patricia argued that because she was separated from James Rush, she was not responsible for his income tax liability. According to Patricia, the clerk mistakenly marked her marital status as "married" instead of "separated," and this error allegedly caused the tax assessor to wrongly deny her 2013 homestead exemption based on James Rush's income tax liability. Based on these circumstances, Patricia argued that the tax sale of her property was invalid and should be set aside.

         ¶3. Observing that Patricia had certified the validity of the information in her homestead exemption application under penalty of perjury, and that Patricia had been notified of the tax sale as required by law, the chancery court denied Patricia's petition and confirmed the tax sale as valid. Patricia appeals. Finding no error in the chancery court's denial of Patricia's petition and determination that the tax sale was valid, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶4. Patricia Rush owned property located at 3096 Highway 14 West in Louisville, Winston County, Mississippi. She acquired the property through a 1998 quitclaim deed from Leroy Triplett. At that time she was known as Patricia Triplett.[1] She subsequently married James H. Rush.[2] In March 2012, Patricia applied for a homestead exemption on the property. Her completed and filed homestead exemption application contains the following information:

Patricia A. Rush and her social security number are typed on line 1 -Taxpayer.
James H. Rush and his social security number are typed on line 2 - Name of Spouse.
Line 5 - Marital Status lists five options: Married, Widowed, Separated, Divorced, and Single. "Married" is checked on Patricia's application.[3]
Patricia signed the application, certifying that the information it contained was correct, as follows:
I do attest and affirm to the best of my knowledge and belief, under penalty of perjury, that the statements made and the answers given are true and correct as of ...

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