Mississippi Supreme Court upholds ruling that power plant's tax expert used unacceptable method to calculate value

By Gabriel Neves | Dec 13, 2018

Tax   Pexels

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that a tax expert hired by a company in a case over property taxes on a power plant used an unacceptable method to calculate taxes.

Justice David Ishee, on the bench of the Mississippi Supreme Court, wrote an 11-page ruling issued on Dec. 6 affirming the Choctaw County Circuit Court decision in the lawsuit filed by NRG Wholesale Generation LP against Lori Kerr, acting as a tax assessor and collector of Choctaw County, and the county itself.

NRG sued the county regarding the valuation of a property it owns. It used an expert to determine the true value of the property for tax purposes.

In his ruling, Ishee sustained the lower court's decision that NRG used an unacceptable method to calculate the value, as well as ruling the circuit court did not err in excluding the company's expert's testimony in the case.

He also added that "because NRG was afforded a fair and impartial jury, the Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to change venue."

As stated in the ruling, "NRG’s expert used a mixture of the sales-comparison approach, the income approach, and the cost approach to determine the true value of the facility," whereas Kerr contended "that Mississippi law mandates a trended historical cost less-depreciation approach to calculate the true value of industrial personal property."

A jury at the lower court decided in favor of Choctaw County in March 2017, "awarding the county $533,827.80 together with 8 percent interest per year," the ruling said.

In the appeal, NRG claimed the district court abused its discretion in considering the tax assessor's methods and disregarding the company's expert calculation of the property value. It also contended the denial of its motion for change of venue, which it requested, per the ruling, "because many of the jurors knew the county officials named as defendants in this case, a fair trial in Choctaw County was impossible."

Mississippi Supreme Court case number 2017-CA-00804-SCT

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