How Does the Oklahoma Court of Tax Review Work?
The Oklahoma Court of Tax Review has limited jurisdiction to oversee certain cases related to taxation, taxpayer protests, and appeals from the state tax commission’s decisions. The court can appeal directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the apex court in the state. The Supreme Court decides whether to hear appealed cases or designate it to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. The Court of Civil Appeals cannot take appeals directly from the Oklahoma Court of Tax Review except for cases referred to it from the Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma Court of Tax Review hears appeals from administrative agencies and does not set up jury trials at all. Additionally, the Court of Tax Review attends to complaints on the public service corporation property valuations by the State Board of Equalization as authorized by the law. Other cases include complaints regarding the State Board of Equalization’s actions about intra-county or inter-county property value equalizations. The court has jurisdiction over appeals concerning tax non-compliance, as determined by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The Court of Tax Review can also determine if a county deemed to be in non-compliance with tax regulations is required to reimburse the Oklahoma Tax Commission from the county assessor’s budget for all costs incurred due to the inaccurate valuation assumptions by the Commission.
The Court of Tax Review determines the procedures to hear protests against alleged illegal levies. The Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice assigns cases brought before the Court of Tax Review to the judicial administrative district. The judicial administrative district’s presiding judge would then appoint a panel of three judges of the district court to determine what county the case will be heard and make decisions based on a majority vote. The Oklahoma Supreme Court establishes court rules for the Court of Tax Review, and the Clerk of the Oklahoma Supreme Court also serves as Clerk of the Court of Tax Review. Twenty-six district judges in Oklahoma conduct the Court of Tax Review and hear cases by creating a three-judge panel. The court reconvenes until all final determinations on protests and levies.
There are no salaries or wages for serving in the Court of Tax Review, but there are provisions to cater to traveling and living allowances while acting as members of the Tax Review Court. Payment for these expenses is from the funds provided by law for district judges’ when holding court hearings in other counties outside the counties of residence.
There is no particular sitting location or address for the Court of Tax Review. An appointed panel hears cases of District Court judges from the administrative district where the case originated. Therefore hearings can be in any county courthouse in the state. The Court of Tax Review can administer oaths, compel witnesses’ attendance, and produce evidence pertinent to a complaint, including county public records, to conduct hearings. To access Oklahoma state law records, interested persons can visit the Oklahoma Judicial Center at:
2100 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Suite 4
Oklahoma City, OK 73105–4907
The secretary of the State Board of Equalization notifies all public service corporations of the ad valorem tax assessments carried out by the Board, including the valuation, assessment ratio, and total level of evaluation. Taxpayers will receive the notice in one working day. The taxpayer has twenty (20) days from the date of the notice to file a complaint with the Court and must copy the complaint to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Taxpayers can use the Tax Commission form to specify grievances and state facts in clear language. The complaint will also include the amount of Oklahoma assessed valuation and the grounds for the protest. If the taxpayer fails to file a written complaint within the stipulated time, the assessed valuation on the notice becomes final and absolute.
Furthermore, if a complaint is submitted, the State Board of Equalization has thirty (30) days to file an answer. The Court of Tax Review then sets a date of hearing, conducts such hearing, reaches its decision, and notify by writing the taxpayer and the State Board of Equalization of its decision by scheduling a conference. The trial’s typical length in the court usually amounts to about four months on the average without considering time for appeal to an appellate court in cases of an unsatisfactory outcome for any of the parties involved.
The Court of Tax Review is empowered to take evidence pertinent to the complaint. For that purpose, it may force witnesses’ attendance, production of books, records, papers by subpoena to confirm, correct, or adjust of the valuation, as required by law. Within ten days of filing the complaint, the Board notifies, in writing and by certified mail the following:
- The Attorney General,
- All affected school districts, and
- Other recipients of ad valorem tax revenue.
The Attorney General is involved in the entire process to enforce the accurate valuation and assessment of the property already made by the State Board of Equalization and the assortment of ad valorem tax, which is the subject of the complaint filed. Parties may file a notice of intent to appeal with the Clerk to ensure that the Board or the party filing a complaint will appeal to the Court of Tax Review’s decision. Parties should file within thirty days of the date the court sent the final decision to both parties.