Barclay Damon Secures Victory for Montana Department of Revenue
July 10, 2018––The Montana Tax Appeal Board recently ruled in favor of longtime Barclay Damon client the State of Montana Department of Revenue against CHS Inc. and completely upheld the MDOR’s assessed value. Acting as lead trial counsel with the assistance of two special assistant attorneys general, Peter Crossett, partner, represented the MDOR pro hac vice.
“I was very satisfied with the outcome––the decision by the Montana Tax Appeal Board was both thorough and thoughtful,” Crossett said. “Not only was it a great win for our real property tax and condemnation practice, but the decision set important precedents in both valuation and equalization issues.”
CHS had originally challenged the MDOR’s nearly $849 million assessment of its Laurel oil refinery for the 2014 tax year, claiming that its total value was actually $345 million, and also questioned whether the MDOR had equalized the assessed value of the refinery as required under the Montana constitution and state law. CHS additionally argued the MDOR’s decision to utilize a cost-approach method to affirm value rather than an income analysis.
After CHS’ appeal to the Yellowstone County Tax Appeal Board where the YCTAB decided the refinery’s market value was $510 million, the MDOR filed an appeal to the MTAB and CHS cross appealed. According to the final decision documents, the parties then engaged in “complex and lengthy motion practice” and extensive discovery before the trial was held in fall 2017.
On May 24, 2018, the MTAB ultimately decided that “CHS did not present sufficient reliable, credible evidence” showing that the MDOR improperly valued the refinery, and that the MDOR did present sufficient evidence to support its original cost-approach valuation. The MTAB additionally noted that while CHS challenged the MDOR’s decision to employ a cost-approach method, CHS allegedly refused to initially provide the state with information to utilize the alternative income analysis method.
The MTAB added that the equalization analysis submitted by CHS did not provide an opinion of market value and reached conclusions “based on assumptions layered upon assumptions.”
“Peter’s work on this case is an excellent example of the type of sophisticated successes that our real property tax and condemnation attorneys consistently obtain for their clients in complex litigation matters,” John Langan, the firm’s managing partner, said. “We are proud to have him on our Barclay Damon team.”
Barclay Damon attorneys team across offices and practices to provide customized, targeted solutions grounded in industry knowledge and a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses. With nearly 300 attorneys, Barclay Damon is a leading regional law firm that operates from a strategic platform of offices located in the Northeastern United States and Toronto.