Metropolitan Sheet Metal Journeyman and Apprentice Training Trust Fund, Relator,
County of Ramsey, Respondent.
Tax Court Office of Appellate Courts.
Carl S. Wosmek, Corey J. Ayling, Kathleen M. Brennan, McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for relator.
John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, M. Jean Stepan, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.
1. An order of the tax court denying a motion pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 15 to amend or supplement a petition is not immediately appealable as a final order under Minn. Stat. § 271.10 (2012).
2. The interests of justice do not require the exercise of discretionary review pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 105.01, when there is no compelling reason for an immediate appeal, completing the lower court proceedings best serves judicial economy, and requiring relator to exhaust those proceedings does not impair relator's interests.
Writ of certiorari dismissed.
GILDEA, Chief Justice.
The central question presented in this case is whether the taxpayer's property is exempt from taxation. The tax court has not yet decided that question. The case nevertheless is before our court on certiorari review of the tax court's decision to deny a motion to amend or supplement the taxpayer's petition. Because we conclude that we lack jurisdiction, we dismiss the writ of certiorari.
The taxpayer, Metropolitan Sheet Metal Journeyman and Apprentice Training Trust Fund ("Trust Fund"), is a multi-employer fringe benefit plan. In 1998, the Trust Fund purchased property located in Ramsey County ("County") that it contends has since been used "solely as a training facility for sheet metal apprentices and journeypersons, according to the apprenticeship standards in the trade." The Trust Fund is the only occupant of the property and is the primary funding source for the apprenticeship program.
When it purchased the property, the Trust Fund sought an exemption from taxation for the property arguing that the property was a "seminar[y] of learning" and therefore exempt under Minn. Stat. § 272.02, subd. 5 (2012). The County allowed an exemption from 1999 to 2005. But in 2005, the County determined that the property was no longer exempt and assessed the property. On April 27, 2006, the Trust Fund filed a petition under Minn. Stat. ch. 278 (2012), challenging the 2005 assessment ("2005 petition"). The Trust Fund argued in the 2005 petition that the property was "exempt from taxation."
The Trust Fund and the County voluntarily suspended the tax court proceedings on the 2005 petition when they learned of possible legislative amendments to the statutory exemptions for apprenticeship training facilities. In the meantime, the Trust Fund paid the assessed taxes on the property for the 2006 and 2007 tax years. The statute was in fact amended, effective for taxes payable in 2009 and 2010, to provide an exemption for "[a]pprenticeship training facilities." See Act of Mar. 7, 2008, ch. 154, art. 2, § 4, subd. 86, 2008 Minn. Laws 69, 79; Act of May 16, 2009, ch. 88, art. 2, § 6, 2009 Minn. Laws 1081, 1162 (codified as amended at Minn. Stat. § 272.02, subd. 86 (2012)). The Trust Fund and the County thereafter attempted to settle the claim raised in the 2005 petition but were not successful, apparently due to the parties' disagreement as to the proposed settlement's impact on the 2006 and 2007 tax years.
On April 29, 2009, the Trust Fund filed a second petition, asserting that its property was exempt for the 2008 tax year ("2008 petition"). As part of the 2008 petition, the Trust Fund attached property tax statements for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 tax years. The Trust Fund argued that the 2008 petition was "a continuation of" the 2005 petition. The parties thereafter revived the 2005 petition and consolidated it with the 2008 petition into one case before the tax court.
On October 4, 2011, the Trust Fund filed a motion pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 15 to amend or supplement its 2005 and 2008 petitions to include claims that its property was exempt for the 2006 and 2007 tax years. The tax court denied the motion "[b]ecause petitions for 2006 and 2007 would be new cases, not amendments or supplements . . . and because new petitions would be untimely." The tax court cited Minn. Stat. § 278.01, subd. 1(c) to support its determination that claims based on the 2006 and 2007 tax years were untimely. Under this statute, claims must be filed "on or before April 30 of the year in which the tax becomes payable." Id. ...