Court blocks VI try for property taxes

Court_seal If you own property on St. John, you may have thought you'd have a Virgin Islands tax bill to pay next month. 

It appears you can fuggetabout it.

A federal appeals court has rejected the Virgin Islands government’s renewed effort to collect property taxes from 2006. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against arguments from the Governor and the Tax Assessor finding the VIs have failed to obey orders to reform the property tax assessment system, specifically to offer a fair and timely process for tax appeals.

The Appeals Court said it agreed with the District Court that there was little evidence “to suggest that the Board of Tax Review is maintaining reliable records“ and that “certain good faith attempts” to establish an appeals system is not enough.

“In other words, procedural due process requires at a minimum that the taxpayer have both notice of the appeal and the right to participate,” the Court said. It found that process lacking.

Last fall, the District Court held the Virgin Islands in contempt for issuing tax bills without getting court approval of a new tax assessment system.  The government appealed the contempt order and, earlier this year, demanded payment of the previously-sent bills be made next month.

James Derr, a St. Thomas attorney for plaintiffs successfully arguing to block the government, said the Appeals Court decision was clear. As you can see, we won on all points.”

He wrote in an e-mail, "This means that both the contempt and the order to recall the 2006 bills are back in place." He added, "It should be interesting to see what the Government does now.”

St. John-based VI Unity Day Group hailed the Appeals Court decision.  A founder of the group, Coral Bay's Loreli Monsanto, told The Inquiring Iguana, "We're all winners on this one.  Now we'rt waiting for the Governor's next move."

Gov. John deJongh had no immediate comment on the decision
against his administration. In fact, there was nothing at all on his
Web site. It was a blank page at http://www.governordejongh.com/.

6 thoughts on “Court blocks VI try for property taxes”

  1. When you spend money like the V.I. Gov’t does – a free SUV and gas for hundreds and hundreds of Gov’t employees – you GOT to roll the dice on contempt of Court occassionally. But what the heck? Whats a contempt finding and award when it’s coming out of the taxpayer’s pockets?

  2. I hope we are not the only St John home owners to have actually paid the tax bill last fall when it arrived in the mail at our home in the states. We didn’t know it was still in question so we paid it. Sure hope it counts towards something whenever this is finally decided. Are taxes always this far behind?

  3. I also paid my taxes, as did Cindy,in the comment above. Does anyone know if the monies we paid will go towards future taxes? I wonder if we are due a refund? I certainly would like to find out.

  4. If you paid your taxes, SAVE THE RECEIPT, they often never cash the checks or lose them and then claim you never paid and charge you interest.
    Another $28 million wasted,you’ll see the same thing happen with the “constitution document” that was illegal from the first to the last draft.

  5. The only way to get a receipt for your taxes is to pay in person or someone pays for you. If you mail your tax bill you’ll never get a receipt and you can’t use your canceled check as a receipt. This makes getting a tax clearance letter nearly impossible since you now have to prove payment. Refund – don’t except one.

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