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Stephen H. Bennett v. State Board of Equalization

February 5, 2013

STEPHEN H. BENNETT, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, DEFENDANT AND RESPONDENT.



Super. Ct. No. 34201180000911CUWMGDS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , J.

Bennett v. State Bd. of Equalization

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Plaintiff Stephen H. Bennett, an accountant acting without counsel, believes defendant State Board of Equalization (BOE) has misinterpreted statutes implementing Proposition 13, regarding when real property may be reassessed. After filing objections to various BOE publications, Bennett filed a mandamus petition to compel BOE to change its interpretation. The trial court sustained without leave to amend BOE's demurrer, based on lack of standing, and Bennett timely appeals from the judgment. We agree with the trial court, and therefore shall affirm.

BACKGROUND

By statute, BOE gives directions to local property tax assessors. (See Gov. Code, § 15608.) Very broadly speaking, Proposition 13 limits reassessment of real property except when a "change in ownership" occurs. (See Cal. Const., art. XIII A, § 2, subd. (a).) Urgent legislation implementing Proposition 13 was passed, effective July 10, 1979. (See Stats. 1979, ch. 242.) This legislation, based on a task force report, defined what constitutes a "change of ownership" under Proposition 13. (See Auerbach v. Assessment Appeals Bd. No. 1 (2006) 39 Cal.4th 153, 160-165; Phelps v. Orange County Assessment Appeals Bd. No. 1 (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 653, 658-659.) The definitions are located in Chapter 2 of Part 0.5 of Division 1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (Rev. & Tax. Code, § 60, et seq.), and BOE has adopted regulations fleshing out these definitions (see Cal. Code Regs., tit. 18, § 462.001, et seq.).

Bennett's writ petition alleges that although the 1979 implementing legislation was prospective in effect, BOE has improperly interpreted it to be retrospective. Bennett sought declarations stating Part 0.5 of the Revenue and Taxation Code "has no retrospective effect on any owner's real property rights,'" BOE has improperly instructed assessors "to apply Part 0.5 retrospectively," BOE acted "unlawfully" by denying Bennett's requests that BOA amend its rules and depublish certain documents, and BOE violated its duty to sue assessors to prevent "giving retrospective effect to Part 0.5." Bennett's pleadings show he made unsuccessful efforts to convince BOE to change its understanding of what actions trigger a change of ownership.

The trial court sustained BOE's demurrer without leave to amend on two grounds: "(1) [Bennett] lacks standing based on a beneficial interest or standing to enforce a public duty and (2) an adequate legal remedy in the form of a refund action pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 5140 precludes a mandate action."

Bennett timely appealed from the judgment.

DISCUSSION

We must begin by presuming the trial court was correct, but Bennett has failed to present coherent arguments, supported by pertinent authority, explaining how the trial court erred, therefore he has failed in his basic duty, as an appellant, to ...


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