Does the Refund Act Require a Taxpayer to File a Petition Before Sueing for a Refund ?
In Aronson v. City of Pittsburgh, 98 Pa. Commw. 1, 510 A.2d 871, 873 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1986) this Court held that a taxpayer must first petition the taxing authority for a refund, as required by the Refund Act, before attempting to enforce its right thereto.
To allow any taxpayer to sue for a refund without first filing the petition would violate the statute.
Further, the plain language of that statute only allowed for an individual to maintain an action for a refund.
Thus, the Court held that "the Legislature has seen fit to give only the aggrieved individual the right to sue for a refund.
The right is personal and may not be transferred to another by way of class action." Id.
Section 4 of the Second Class County Assessment Law, Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 626, as amended, 72 P.S. 5452.4(a) & (c) ("The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review shall have power and its duty shall be ... to make and supervise the making of all assessments and valuations of all subjects of taxation in the county as required by existing law... and to hear all cases of appeals from assessments, and all complaints as to assessments, error, exonerations and refunds....";
Section 518.1(a) of the General County Assessment Law, Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, added by the Act of December 28, 1955, P.L. 917, as amended, 72 P.S. 5020-518.1(a) ("Any owner of real estate or taxable property in this Commonwealth, who may feel aggrieved by the last or any future assessment or valuation of his real estate or taxable property, may appeal from the decision of ... the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, in counties of the second class ... to the court.... Provided, however, That the appeal shall not prevent the collection of the taxes complained of, but in the case the same shall be reduced, then the excess shall be returned to the person or persons who shall have paid the same: and provided further, That the appellant may pay the amount of the tax alleged to be due by reason of the assessment appealed from to the tax collector, under protest in writing, in which case when the tax is paid over to the taxing district, it shall be the duty of the tax collector to notify the taxing district of such payment under protest by delivering to it the protest in writing.
Whereupon, the taxing district with the exception of cities of the second class and school districts of the first class a within such counties shall be required to segregate twenty-five per centum (25%) of the amount of the tax paid over, and shall deposit the same in a separate account in the depository in which the funds of the taxing district are deposited, and shall not be permitted to expend any portion of such segregated amount, unless it shall first petition the court alleging that such segregated amount is unjustly withheld.... Provided further, That upon final disposition of the appeal the amount found to be due the appellant as a refund, together with interest thereon, shall also be a legal set off or credit against any taxes assessed against appellant by the same taxing district....").