Friday, May 4, 2007
Town loses $83,000 tax case
Assessor John Speidel announced at the Finance Team meeting on April 24 that the state Appellate Tax Board has ruled against Carlisle in the case of roll-back taxes charged by the town when 55 acres of West Street land was removed from the state's Chapter 61 forestry program in 2002. Normally, land classified under Chapter 61 is taxed at a reduced rate, but is subject to a penalty, or roll-back taxes, if it is removed from forestry and sold for development. The Appellate Tax Board did not explain its decision and Speidel said that once town counsel learns the board's reasoning, it will advise the town whether to appeal the decision.
Speidel later described the property in question as Parcels 17-1, 17-2, 17-3, 17-4 and 17 on Map 5, by Hobble Bush Lane. Originally owned by A.E. Benfield, the land was transferred to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, which later sold parcels to Northland West Street, LLC. The plaintiff was South Street Nominee Trust, administered by the law firm Choate, Hall and Stuart.
An almost identical case involving $216,000 in roll-back taxes for a larger property with the same plaintiff was resolved in the town's favor. The Trust has appealed that decision.
It was not clear to Speidel what prompted the different decisions in the two cases, other than that the town delayed filing for a year on the case that lost, due to uncertainties of who was the responsible party, since Benfield retained a life estate on the property.
If the town ultimately has to repay the $83,000, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie explained a future Town Meeting would need to authorize a transfer of funds from free cash or the Stabilization Fund. However, Speidel noted, "We can still appeal it. It's not the end of the line yet."
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