When the City of Stamford converted all of its records to an electronic system in 1993, the assessor erroneously listed the property at 3 Hackett Circle West as comprised of 1.15 acres. In fact, the total acreage was either .88 or .89 based on surveys obtained after the conversion. Around July 2017, the owner learned of the acreage discrepancy and advised the assessor to correct his records and to reduce its assessment. Not only did the assessor agree to do so, he also forwarded an application to the property owner to seek refunds for the 2014 and 2015 tax years, the owner having accepted a credit for the 2016 year. However, instead of filing the refund application, the owner demanded a refund of excess taxes paid back to 1993.
As many know, the standard look back period to obtain a tax refund following correction of an assessor’s error is three years.
Notwithstanding, the owner sued the City for an additional twenty years of tax refunds which effort was rejected by a Connecticut trial court. In an appeal to the Appellate Court, the trial court decision was upheld. The court noted that the legislature was within its rights to limit refunds after discovery of a clerical error. In essence, though it was clear that the assessor had erred, the right to receive financial recompense for the losses caused to the taxpayer could be restricted so as to limit the financial exposure of the municipality.
Note that the 3 year limitation also applies to situations where the assessor is correcting errors which favored the property owner!
Peerless Realty Inc. v. City of Stamford, 211 Conn. App. 441 (2022).
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