Appeal from the Circuit Court and of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Fulton County, Illinois, Circuit No. 10-TX-47 Honorable William C. Davis, Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Schmidt
PRESIDING JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices O'Brien and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Defendant, Victoria J. Harper, Fulton County treasurer and collector, appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Thomas G. Baker, Sharon L. Baker and Michael W. Baker (Taxpayers) on their tax objection complaint. Taxpayers claimed that the tax notice was defective, invalidating the tax and negating the need for exhaustion of administrative remedies. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment. Defendant now appeals.
¶ 3 In 2008, Taxpayers purchased 163.61 acres of a 225.29-acre parcel. The original 225-acre parcel was assessed as farmland in 2008. A new tax parcel was created for Taxpayers. The taxes assessed on the new property in 2009 were $15,372.22. In 2008, the real estate tax for the original 225.29 acres was $240.
¶ 4 Taxpayers received a 2009 assessment notice. It stated that the new property would be assessed at $165,250 and that the prior year's assessed value was $0. The notice further identified the fact that the new parcel was classified as "rural, vacant, non-farm" property. The notice also stated that Taxpayers had the right to appeal the assessment to the Fulton County Board of Review (the Board). Taxpayers did not file an appeal with the Board. Instead, they filed a complaint in the circuit court of Fulton County, claiming that the new property should have been assessed as farmland, as the original parcel had been assessed.
¶ 5 Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction due to Taxpayers' failure to exhaust their administrative remedies. The trial court denied the motion, as well as defendant's motion to reconsider. It held that exhaustion of remedies did not apply due to the defective notice sent to Taxpayers.
¶ 6 Taxpayers moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Defendant appeals.
¶ 8 Defendant raises two general arguments. First, that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to hear the tax objection due to Taxpayers' failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Second, she argues that even if the trial court had jurisdiction, its grant of summary judgment was improper where the Property Tax Code (the Code) (35 ILCS 200/1-1 (West 2010)) states that a failure to give notice required by the Code does not invalidate a tax.
¶ 9 Taxpayers argue that the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement is not applicable here due to defendant's failure to give proper statutory notice. They also argue that defendant's failure to properly notify them of the increase renders the tax invalid.
¶ 10 "Where a circuit court determines jurisdictional issues without hearing testimony, we review the court's determination de novo." In re Marriage of ...