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Almasri v. Mississippi Department of Revenue

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 6, 2019

ALI ALMASRI APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE APPELLEE ALI ALMASRI APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE APPELLEE ALI ALMASRI APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE APPELLEE ALI ALMASRI APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE APPELLEE ALI ALMASRI APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/17/2016

          LEE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. C. MICHAEL MALSKI JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM C. STENNETT.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JON FRANCIS CARMER JR. MORTON WARD SMITH.

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., LAWRENCE AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          LAWRENCE, J.

         ¶1. Ali Almasri appeals the Lee County Chancery Court's dismissal of his five appeals for lack of jurisdiction. On appeal, Almasri also challenges the constitutionality of Mississippi Code Annotated section 27-77-7 (Rev. 2010). Because Almasri failed to comply with section 27-77-7, we find Almasri's constitutional challenge procedurally barred and affirm the chancery court's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶2. In 2012, Almasri owned and operated several convenience stores in Tupelo, Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) audited Almasri's businesses in August 2012 for sales tax, special county tax, and withholding tax. The MDOR also audited Almasri's individual income tax. In June 2013, the MDOR issued tax assessments against Almasri for sales tax ($55, 091), special county tax ($665), withholding tax ($14, 565), E-911 prepaid wireless tax ($9, 778), and individual income tax ($24, 230). The assessments totaled $104, 329.

         ¶3. Almasri appealed to the MDOR's Board of Review (Board), which affirmed all five assessments but reduced Almasri's sales tax assessment from $55, 091 to $49, 141, and special county tax assessment from $665 to $352. The reduction in special county tax reduced Almasri's individual income tax assessment by $8, 712. Almasri's revised assessments totaled $89, 354. He subsequently appealed to the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA), which held a hearing on March 18, 2015. On September 16, 2015, the BTA affirmed the Board's decision through five separate orders.

         ¶4. On November 13, 2015, Almasri appealed all five orders to Lee County Chancery Court. The MDOR filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the chancery court lacked appellate jurisdiction based on Almasri's failure to post a surety bond of one-half the amount in controversy with his petition or prepay the assessment under protest. See Miss. Code Ann. § 27-7-7 (Rev. 2010). On May 24, 2016, the court held a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, Almasri's attorney admitted that Almasri failed to post a bond when he appealed or prepay the assessments under protest. He claimed Almasri was unable to pay. Notably, the attorney did not provide an affidavit or sworn testimony regarding Almasri's inability to pay. Instead, he offered into evidence five "property bond" drafts for the court's consideration. The chancery court ultimately found it lacked jurisdiction based on Almasri's failure to post a bond or prepay the taxes under protest. Accordingly, the court granted MDOR's motion to dismiss. Almasri appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. "Jurisdiction and statutory interpretation are matters of law and, therefore, we review de novo a trial court's rulings on such matters." 5K Farms Inc. v. Miss. Dep't of ...


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