socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
A business owner who sued an Illinois county claiming officials singled him and other local business owners out for tax hikes plans to continue the legal fight despite another setback.
A panel of federal appellate judges in Chicago <a href="http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2018/D10-11/C:17-3615:J:Flaum:aut:T:fnOp:N:2232520:S:0">denied</a> Mattoon business owner Robb Perry and the owners of about 500 other commercial properties of the chance to go after Coles County officials for hiking property taxes up to 400 percent in a single year. This happened in 2015, the same year many other areas of the county saw decreases.
Perry’s said he’s disappointed in the loss, but maintained that the county broke the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s not like we’re making it up,” he said. “It’s a true 14th Amendment violation.”
The opinion said Perry and the others should appeal the assessments using the local appeal process. In the decision, the judges wrote that every taxpayer in the state would be suing for relief from taxes if Perry’s suit were to succeed.
“The comity doctrine bars taxpayers from asserting…claims against ‘the validity of state tax systems’ via federal lawsuits,” the opinion said. “…as Coles County points out, it would obliterate the comity doctrine if taxpayers could avoid the doctrine’s effect simply by alleging a claim for injunctive relief.”
Perry said the area is close enough to the Indiana border, where property taxes are so much lower that they couldn’t sell their business lots off if they wanted to.
“You’ve got the taxes up so high that you can’t afford to live there and you can’t sell it because nobody’s willing to pay those taxes,” he said. “You’re in a box and can’t get out.”
The business owners plan to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
Perry has also filed a state-level lawsuit with the county for outsourcing the assessment duties to a private contractor.