Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Deadline Extensions Implemented During Coronavirus Crisis Apply to Tax Appeals

A state “tolling” law enacted during the coronavirus crisis postponed the running of time limitations for filing legal documents, and that law applies to appeals submitted to the Board of Tax Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

In a unanimous per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the BTA’s determination that the 2020 tolling law did not apply to cases appealed from the tax commissioner to the BTA. The Ohio tax commissioner, who originally argued that the taxpayer had missed the deadline for filing its appeals to the BTA, changed position after the BTA dismissed the appeals and the matter was submitted to the Supreme Court. Both parties urged the Court to reverse the BTA’s determination.

The parties argued that House Bill 197 extended the deadline to file an appeal. The taxpayer also contended that a separate tolling order issued by the Ohio Supreme Court (See Chief Justice ‘Tolls’ Time Requirements to Aid Courts in Crisis) also gave it extra time to appeal. The Court clarified that its order governed time limitations imposed by court rules and did not apply to time limits for filing an appeal at the BTA, which are imposed by statutes.

Taxpayer Disputes Assessment
Ronald Chapman and Chapman Enterprises of Carroll, Ohio, challenged tax assessments issued against them by the Ohio tax commissioner. The tax commissioner made a final determination upholding the disputed assessments. The determination was received by Chapman on May 4, 2020. Under R.C. 5717.02(B), Chapman had 60 days from the date he and his company was served to appeal to the BTA. Because of the July 4 holiday, the deadline for the appeal was July 6.

As required by state law, Chapman delivered a notice of their appeals to the tax commissioner, which was received on June 26, 2020, and presented their notices of appeal to the BTA on July 27,2020.

Chapman’s appeals were initiated in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The General Assembly enacted House Bill 197 in March 2020, to impose emergency measures to protect citizens during the health crisis. Effective March 27, H.B. 197 tolled numerous time limitation periods imposed by state law. Section 22 of the bill stated that certain time limitation periods set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020 would be tolled until the end of the official coronavirus emergency or July 30, whichever came first. Because the coronavirus crisis continued through 2020, the tolling order ended on July 30, 2020.

Chapman filed the notices of appeal during the time when the 60-day limitation period was suspended — or “tolled.” As a result, H.B. 197 suspended that 60-day period and restarted it after July 30, 2020, the company maintained.  

State Rejects Appeal
Before the BTA, the tax commissioner requested that the BTA dismiss Chapman’s appeals, arguing the deadline to submit them was July 6. The BTA agreed with the commissioner and dismissed the appeals, stating the provisions in H.B. 197 did not apply to BTA appeals. Chapman appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which is required to consider this type of dispute.

While the tax commissioner argued that Chapman missed the deadline to appeal, the office changed course while the case was pending before the Supreme Court. Rather than submitting a brief.

opposing Chapman’s appeal, the commissioner joined Chapman in requesting the BTA’s dismissal be reversed and the case be remanded to the BTA. The commissioner stated it had concluded that H.B. 197 applies to all statutorily established statutes of limitations in the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code, including the BTA appeal process stated in R.C. 5717.02.

Supreme Court Examined the Tolling Statute
The Supreme Court noted that Section 22(A)(1)(c) of H.B. 197 stated that a statute of limitations set to expire between March 9 and July 30, 2020, would be tolled, including the “period of limitation” for “any administrative actions or proceeding.” Section 22(A) (10) similarly tolled “any other criminal, civil, or administrative time limitation.”

While R.C. 5717.02 speaks of an “appeal” rather than “limitation period,” the Court held that the 60-day time limitation for filing an appeal to the BTA is “functionally the same as a 60-day limitation period for initiating an administrative proceeding at the BTA.” And even if Section 22(A)(1)(c) did not apply, the Court noted that Section A(10) would toll the 60-day period as an “administrative time limitation.”

Because Chapman submitted its claim during the period when H.B. 197 tolled the 60-day period for filing its BTA appeal, the Court remanded the cases to the BTA for consideration on the merits.

2020-1389 and 2020-1390. Chapman Ents., Inc. v. McLain, Slip Opinion No. 2021-Ohio-2386.

Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.

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