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Jones v. State, Property Tax Appeal Board

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

August 1, 2017

HARLAN W. JONES and PHYLLIS L. JONES, Petitioners-Appellants,
v.
STATE OF ILLINOIS PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD and FRANKLIN COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW, Respondents-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County. No. 14-MR-25 Honorable David K. Overstreet, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellants David B. Garavalia, 417 North Main Street, P.O. Box 396, Benton, IL for 62812-0396

          Appellants for Attorneys Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, State of Illinois, David L. Franklin, Solicitor for General, Valerie Quinn, Assistant Attorney General, 100 West Randolph Street, 12th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 (attorneys for Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board) Evan L. Owens, Franklin County State's Attorney, Amanda Levanti, Assistant State's Attorney, 411 East Main Street, Benton, IL 62812 (attorneys for Franklin County Board of Review)

          JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Cates and Barberis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CHAPMAN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 This appeal involves the tax status of a manufactured home installed months before the effective date of a change in the applicable law. Prior to January 1, 2011, mobile homes and manufactured homes were taxed as real property only if they were resting on a permanent foundation. 35 ILCS 200/1-130 (West 2008); 35 ILCS 515/1 (West 2008). Under current law, all mobile homes and manufactured homes located outside of mobile home parks are taxed as real property. 35 ILCS 515/1(a) (West 2010); 35 ILCS 517/10(a) (West 2010). The law contains a "grandfather clause, " which provides that mobile homes and manufactured homes that were taxed as personal property on the effective date of the amendment will continue to be taxed as personal property until they are sold or transferred or moved to a different location outside of a mobile home park. 35 ILCS 200/1-130(b) (West 2010); 35 ILCS 515/1(b) (West 2010); 35 ILCS 517/10(b) (West 2010). At issue is the applicability of this provision to a manufactured home that was installed before the effective date of the new law but was not assessed or taxed either as real property or as personal property in 2010.

         ¶ 2 The petitioners, Harlan and Phyllis Jones, installed a manufactured home on their property in May or June of 2010. They did not comply with a requirement that they register the home with the local tax assessor within 30 days. See 35 ILCS 515/4 (West 2008). The tax assessor-who ordinarily completes his assessments by July 1 of each year-did not conduct a new assessment of the petitioners' property after the manufactured home was installed, and the property was therefore assessed and taxed as a vacant lot in 2010. The manufactured home was assessed and taxed as real property beginning in 2011. The petitioners challenged this assessment. The Property Tax Appeal Board upheld the assessment, finding decisive the fact that the petitioners failed to register their manufactured home. The circuit court affirmed this decision. The petitioners appeal, arguing that the decision was clearly erroneous. We reverse.

         ¶ 3 In July 2009, the petitioners purchased a vacant lot in the village of Valier, Franklin County, Illinois. The property was located across the street from Valier city hall. When they purchased the land, the petitioners lived in Mississippi. They intended to install a modular manufactured home on the lot and live in the home. On September 18, 2009, the village of Valier issued a building permit to the petitioners for a 3000 square foot manufactured home.

         ¶ 4 In March 2010, the petitioners completed vehicle registrations for each of the three modules of the home with the Secretary of State. In April, they filed a vehicle use tax transaction return and paid sales tax for the home.

         ¶ 5 The petitioners' home was installed on the property during May and June of 2010. As noted previously, they did not file a mobile home registration with the local tax assessor within 30 days of installation as required by statute. See 35 ILCS 515/4 (West 2008). Electric service began late in June 2010, and water service began in July. According to Harlan Jones, he and his wife "began moving into" the home in the spring of 2010; however, they did not immediately begin living there full time.

         ¶ 6 In December 2010, the petitioners received an assessment notice informing them that the property was being assessed and taxed as a vacant lot. In June 2011, township assessor Gerald Owens performed an assessment of the petitioners' property. He believed that the home on the property was a stick-built house and assessed it as real estate.

         ¶ 7 In November 2011, the petitioners received a notice of "new construction" assessment. They contested this assessment, arguing that their home was a manufactured home, not a stick-built home. On February 27, 2012, the Franklin County Board of Review issued a notice of final decision on assessed value. It affirmed the township assessor's assessment.

         ¶ 8 On March 20, 2012, the petitioners filed an appeal of that decision with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. They argued, as they do before this court, that because their home was installed before the effective date of the new law, it should be taxed and assessed under the old law. See 35 ILCS 200/1-130(b) (West 2010); 35 ILCS 515/1(b) (West 2010); 35 ILCS 517/10(b) (West 2010).

         ¶ 9 The matter came for a hearing in January 2014. Harlan Jones testified that he recently retired after working for 23 years as a mobile home salesman in Mississippi. He and his wife, Phyllis, moved from Mississippi to Illinois to be closer to his brother, who had health problems. As a result of his professional experience, Jones was familiar with the proper way to install manufactured and mobile homes. In the spring of 2009, the Joneses bought ...


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