Assessor Error and Tax Refunds | Pullman & Comley, LLC

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When the City of Stamford converted all of its records to an electronic system in 1993, the assessor mistakenly listed the property at 3 Hackett Circle West as comprising 1.15 acres. In fact, the total area was 0.88 or 0.89 depending on the readings obtained after the conversion. Around July 2017, the owner became aware of the area discrepancy and advised the appraiser to correct his records and reduce his appraisal. Not only did the assessor agree to do so, but he also forwarded a request to the owner to request refunds for the 2014 and 2015 tax years, as the owner accepted a credit for the 2016 year. However, instead to file the refund application, the owner demanded a refund of the excess taxes paid up to 1993.

As many know, the standard look-back period for obtaining a tax refund following the correction of an assessor’s error is three years.

Nevertheless, the owner sued the city for another twenty years of tax refunds, an effort that was dismissed by a Connecticut trial court. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the lower court’s decision was upheld. The court noted that the legislature was within its rights to limit refunds after a clerical error was discovered. Essentially, even if it was clear that the assessor had made an error, the right to receive financial compensation for the losses caused to the taxpayer could be restricted in such a way as to limit the financial exposure of the municipality.

Note that the 3-year prescription also applies to situations where the appraiser corrects errors that have favored the owner!

Peerless Realty Inc. v. City of Stamford, 211 Conn. App. 441 (2022).

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