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Koehr v. Emmons - 55 S.W.3d 859 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001)

Rule:

The time limitation on tax refunds found in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 137.073.9(2000) is not a statute of limitations but a deadline for judicial action. There is no statutory authorization for an action for refunds, only for an injunction or an order revising the tax rate.

Facts:

Appellant taxpayers individually and as class representatives filed suit against respondent tax district in the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Missouri. The taxpayers sought a refund of an overpayment of taxes under the Hancock Amendment because the rounding formula prescribed by the State Auditor and utilized by the tax district resulted in an unconstitutional application of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 137.073 (1994). The trial court denied the tax district's motion to dismiss, granted class certification, and found in favor of the tax district. The taxpayers appealed the judgment.

Issue:

In an action by taxpayers seeking a declaratory injunction against a state tax district and a refund of taxes paid allegedly in violation of the state constitution, did the trial court err in certifying the putative class where the claims asserted by the taxpayers as purported class representatives were neither properly nor timely filed?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals of Missouri found the claims asserted by the taxpayers as purported class representatives were neither properly nor timely filed. Because the taxpayers were the only named class representatives and their claims were time barred, the putative class lacked representation and should not have been certified. The taxpayers' individual claim for one year which was amounted to such an insubstantial sum that it did not violate the Hancock Amendment. The judgment was reversed as to the trial court's certification of a plaintiff class. On remand, the trial court was directed to dismiss all claims for class action relief. The judgment in favor of the tax district and against the taxpayers on their individual claims was affirmed.

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