Edward A. CRAPO, in his capacity as Alachua County Property Appraiser, Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
ACADEMY FOR FIVE ELEMENT ACUPUNCTURE, INC., a Florida Non-Profit Corporation, Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Rehearing Denied July 10, 2019
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Toby S.
Dent, Jr., and Jennifer A. McClain of Dent & McClain,
Chartered, Sarasota, for Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Donnelly and Jung Yoon of Donnelly Gross, Gainesville, for
H. Mears, General Counsel, and James L. Richmond, Assistant
General Counsel, Tallahassee, for Amicus Curiae The
Department of Education, Commission for Independent
Moody, Attorney General, and Timothy E. Dennis, Chief
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Amicus Curiae
State of Florida, Department of Revenue.
K. Phipps of Phipps & Howell, Tallahassee; Michael D. Minton
of Dean Mead Minton & Zwemer, Fort Pierce; Gerald J. Donnini
of Moffa, Sutton & Donnini, P.A., Fort Lauderdale; and
Mitchell I. Horowitz of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC,
Tampa, for Amicus Curiae The Tax Section of the Florida Bar.
E. Levy and Stuart W. Smith of The Levy Law Firm,
Tallahassee, for Amicus Curiae The Property Appraisers
Association of Florida, Inc.
ON REHEARING EN BANC
County Property Appraiser Edward A. Crapo appeals a circuit
court decision awarding the Academy for Five Element
Acupuncture, Inc. an educational property tax exemption under
section 196.198, Florida Statutes. On the merits, Property
Appraiser Crapo argues that the Academy does not qualify for
the exemption because it is not an "educational
institution" as defined in section 196.012(5)— and
we agree. Procedurally, the Academy raises a tipsy-coachman
argument urging us to affirm the circuit
courts ruling because an earlier Value Adjustment Board
decision favoring the Academy was preclusive under the
finality doctrine— but we disagree. We therefore
reverse the circuit courts judgment.
Academy operates a not-for-profit private post-secondary
school in downtown Gainesville that teaches and trains
students in acupuncture, health sciences, and herbal studies.
For years, while located in Broward County, the Academy
received an educational tax exemption on its property. But
when it moved to Gainesville in 2008 and applied for the same
exemption, Property Appraiser Crapo denied it. He asserted
that the Academy was not an "educational
institution" under the tax code and did not qualify for
the property tax exemption. The Academy petitioned the
Alachua County VAB to resolve the dispute, and a special
magistrate heard the case. The special magistrate concluded,
with substantial hesitation, that the Academy qualified as an
educational institution under section 196.012(5), and
recommended that the VAB grant the exemption. The VAB did so,
summarily granting the Academys property tax exemption.
Property Appraiser Crapo did not seek the de-novo hearing in
circuit court authorized under section 194.036(3), Florida
Academy received the educational exemption on its Alachua
County property from 2008 through 2013. In 2014, Property
Appraiser Crapo again raised the education exemption issue.
He issued a notice to the Academy disapproving its exemption
for failing to meet the definition of an educational
institution. The Academy responded by again petitioning the
VAB. The VAB upheld the tax exemption, the same result as in
2008. This time, however, Property Appraiser Crapo filed suit
in circuit court for de-novo determination of the issue.
See § 194.036(3), Fla. Stat. The circuit court ruled
that the Academy qualified for the exemption.
addition to deciding the tax exemption issue, the circuit
court considered the Academys alternative
administrative-finality argument. The Academy argued that
Property Appraiser Crapo was prohibited from litigating the
tax exemption issue because the underlying facts had not
changed, and he lost the same issue before the VAB in 2008.
But the circuit court rejected the Academys
decisional-finality argument under the theory that each tax
year stands on its own.
Appraiser Crapo then appealed the property tax exemption
issue to this Court, and the Academy cross-appealed on the
administrative-finality issue. A three-judge panel affirmed
the trial courts final judgment for the Academy based on
administrative finality, holding that Property Appraiser
Crapo could not revisit or challenge the Academys tax
exemption any more after the VABs 2008 decision. The panel
opinion did not reach the merits of Property Appraiser
Crapos argument against the Academys tax exemption.
Property Appraiser Crapo then filed a motion for rehearing en
banc, which we granted. See Fla. R. App. P.
Merits: The Exemption
property in Florida is annually assessed and subject to an ad
valorem tax unless an exemption applies. Art. VII, § 4, Fla.
Const.; § § 192.042, 196.001(1), Fla. Stat.; see
also Sowell v. Panama Commons, L.P., 192 So.3d
27, 30 (Fla. 2016). One of the available exemptions under
Florida law applies to property used for educational purposes
by an "educational institution." § 196.198, Fla.
Stat.; see also Art. VII, § 3(a), Fla. Const.
(allowing for exemptions on property used for educational
Natl Ctr. for Constr. Educ. & Research Ltd., Corp. v.
Crapo, 248 So.3d 1256, 1257-58 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018). The
tax code further defines an "educational
institution" as follows:
"Educational institution" means a federal, state,
parochial, church, or private school, college, or university
conducting regular classes and courses of study required for
eligibility to certification by, accreditation to, or
membership in the State Department of Education of
Florida, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or the
Florida Council of Independent Schools ....
§ 196.012(5), Fla. Stat. (emphasis added).
parties disagree about whether the Academy falls within the
section-196.012(5) definition of an "educational
institution" and thus qualifies for this particular
exemption. We review such questions of statutory
interpretation de novo. See State v. Purdy,
252 So.3d 723, 725 (Fla. 2018). Statutes providing for an
exemption to an ad valorem tax are construed strictly, such
that any ambiguity is resolved against the claimed exemption.
Natl Ctr., 248 So.3d at 1257-58 (citing
Sowell, 192 So.3d at 30). A claimant bears the
burden of clearly showing its entitlement to a tax exemption.
Id. at 1258.
case, no one disputes that the Academy is a state-licensed
private post-secondary school that grants certificates and
degrees in acupuncture, Chinese herbal studies, and health
science. But Property Appraiser Crapo argues that the Academy
is not entitled to the exemption because it is not
credentialed by, and does not offer classes or courses as
required for credentialing by, one of the three entities
identified in section 196.012(5): the State Department of
Education of Florida, the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools, or the Florida Council of Independent Schools.
Rather, the record evidence here only shows that the
Academys classes and courses satisfy licensing requirements
of the Florida Commission for Independent Schools, which is
not one of the entities the statute identifies. The circuit
court concluded that Commission-issued licenses satisfy the
statutes reference to certification by "the State
Department of Education," but Property Appraiser Crapo
argues that the Commission and Department are different
entities for purposes of the exemption statute.
cannot read section 196.012(5)s reference to the
"Department" as applying equally to the Commission,
because Florida law distinguishes between Commission- and
Department-certified schools. Although the education statute
creating the Commission places it within the Department as an
administrative matter— see sections
1005.21(1), 1001.22, Florida Statutes— the Departments
and Commissions school-certification regimes are not
referenced interchangeably. Under section 1005.06(1), for
example, institutions under the Departments jurisdiction are
distinguished as "not under the jurisdiction
and purview of the commission." (Emphasis added.) The
statute dealing with barbering schools requires "a
license issued by the Commission ... pursuant to chapter
1005." § 476.178, Fla. Stat. But it also "shall not
be construed to prevent certification [of barber training
programs] by the Department of Education." Id.
The same distinction between Commission licensing and
Departmental certification is found in the cosmetology
statute. § 477.023, Fla. Stat. It requires "a license
issued by the Commission ... pursuant to chapter 1005,"
but then also allows for the Department to certify
cosmetology training programs. Id. An educational
assistance program for National Guard members refers to
institutions "licensed by the Commission"
separately from training programs leading to certifications
approved by the Department of Education.
§ 250.10(7), Fla. Stat. The Massage Practice Act does not
mention Commission licensing at all, but rather defines a
"[b]oard-approved massage school" as being
"licensed by the Department of Education." §
480.033(9), Fla. Stat. Additionally, section 1005.05, Florida
Statutes, distinguishes between the Commission and the
Department with respect to pre-program application
requirements for nonpublic colleges, by instructing as
Colleges under the jurisdiction of the Commission for
Independent Education shall apply to the commission. Colleges
that are not under the jurisdiction of the commission shall
apply to the Department of Education.
§ 1005.05, Fla. Stat. These statutes undermine the Academys
argument that institutional licensing by the Commission is
the same as certification by the Department.
addition to having different school-approval regimes, we
recognize that Florida law grants authority to the Commission
independent from the Department, section 1005.21(1), Fla.
Stat.; that Commission members are appointed through the
Governor and Senate instead of via the Commissioner of
Education, section 1005.21(2), Fla. Stat.; and that the
Commission possesses its own rulemaking authority, section
1005.22(1)(e), Fla. Stat. The Commissions independence from
the Department in these areas also indicates that their
respective school-certification regimes operate on different
light of these statutes, we agree with Property Appraiser
Crapo that the Commissions licensure is not the same as the
Departments certification within the meaning of the
tax-exemption statute. On the record presented, we cannot
conclude that the Academys programs satisfy the Departments
certification requirements under section 196.012(5) merely
because the programs satisfy the Commissions licensing
requirements. Because the Academy did not carry its burden of
clearly showing that it is an "educational
institution" entitled to the property tax exemption, we
reverse the final judgment. We also reject the Academys
alternative tipsy-coachman argument that the doctrine of
administrative finality precluded further review of the
tax-exemption issue the VAB addressed in 2008, and turn to
that issue next.
Procedure: Administrative Finality
Academys alternative argument is that Property Appraiser
Crapo was barred from revisiting the tax exemption issue
after he lost the same issue before the VAB in 2008, and did
not raise the issue in a circuit court proceeding. This
argument requires us to pull together a complex
constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and factual framework
to decide an important issue that is deceptively simple to
state: Does administrative finality attach to VAB decisions
that are not subsequently litigated in circuit
the unique context of ad valorem taxation and exemptions, we
must agree with Property Appraiser Crapo that administrative
finality does not attach to VAB decisions. To
achieve preclusive finality of a tax ruling requires either
directly to circuit court in the first instance, or filing
suit in circuit court for de novo review and disposition of
an issue previously presented to the VAB. The decision of a
circuit court, if not appealed, then has preclusive effect.
If the circuit courts decision is appealed, the appellate
courts decision becomes the law of the case (absent further
review and disposition by the Florida Supreme Court or the
United States Supreme Court). A VAB decision alone does not
have preclusive effect.
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
analysis requires an understanding of the laws and rules
establishing and governing the office of property appraiser
and its authority over tax exemptions, VABs and their
authority and processes, circuit court jurisdiction and
standards for review of tax questions, and the oft-repeated
maxim in tax law that "each year stands on its
own." We address these topics in turn.
Property Appraisers and Exemptions
Florida county has a property appraiser, who is an elected
and independent constitutional officer charged with
determining whether real property situated within the county
is subject to ad valorem taxation; and if so, valuing the
property and assessing tax on it. Art. VIII, § 1(d), Fla.
Const. Each property appraiser also has
authority to determine whether property is entitled to a tax
exemption. § 196.011, Fla. Stat. (requiring tax-exemption
applications to be filed with property appraisers); §
196.193, Fla. Stat. (requiring property appraisers to review
tax-exemption applications and determine whether to grant or
deny them). This is an annually-repeating process, as
discussed in greater detail below.
property appraiser denying an initial or renewal application
must notify the applicant, who then can choose any or all
from among three options to challenge the denial: request an
informal conference with the property appraiser under section
194.011(2), Florida Statutes; petition the VAB for review
under section 194.011(3); or file suit in circuit court under
section 194.171, either first among these options or after
exercising one or both of the others. Each of these statutes
provides that the dispute-resolution steps available before
filing suit in circuit court are optional. It is not
necessary to confer informally before seeking a VAB hearing
or filing suit, and it is not necessary to go to a VAB
hearing before filing suit.
appraisers also have the statutory right to file suit in
circuit court after a VAB rules against them. § 194.036(1),
Fla. Stat. (authorizing property appraisers to initiate
circuit court proceedings (a) upon determining and asserting
that the VAB contravened a provision of constitution,
statute, or rule; (b) if the VAB arrives at
an assessed value exceeding the property appraisers assessed
value by more than percentage amounts set forth; and (c) if
the property appraiser asserts that the VAB is consistently
and continuously violating the law or rules, thus triggering
review by the Department of Revenue and potential action
against the VAB). Property Appraiser Crapo sued in
circuit court under section 194.036(1)(a), asserting an
erroneous construction and application of the educational tax
Florida county has its own VAB, the members of which are two
members of the countys governing body, one member of the
school board, and two citizen members— one homestead
property owner and one commercial business owner. § 194.015,
Fla. Stat. The members of the VAB are not elected by the
public or appointed by the Governor. The board of the
governing body of the county chooses two members of the
governing body to serve on the VAB, the school board elects
one of its members to serve on the VAB, and then the
governing body and the school board each appoint one of the
other two VAB members. Id. Each VAB must have
private counsel, who must have more than five years
experience practicing law. Id. To resolve factual
issues in many proceedings, the VAB appoints a special
magistrate, who does not have to be a lawyer, except in cases
involving exemptions, in which the special magistrate must be
a lawyer admitted to the Florida Bar for at least five years.
§ 194.035(1), Fla. Stat.
has specific authority to hear disputes involving exemptions.
§ 194.032(1)(a)3., Fla. Stat. The VABs role in exemption
cases is to determine whether the taxpayer meets the
statutory criteria for the specific exemption at issue.
See Fla. Admin. Code R. 12D-9.027(4). The VAB must
support all conclusions of law with findings of fact
supported by record evidence, or the lack thereof. Fla.
Admin. Code R. 12D-9.032(1)(a).
it is tempting to try to analogize VAB decisions to a variety
of other non-judicial processes, it is important to respect
the differences between them. The
statutes expressly provide that a VAB is not an
administrative tribunal under chapter 120 of the Florida
Statutes. § 194.034(1)(i), Fla. Stat. ("Chapter 120 does
not apply to hearings of the value adjustment board.").
Whereas appellate courts have jurisdiction to review the
merits of orders entered in chapter-120 proceedings, circuit
courts review de novo the issues presented to VABs, giving no
precedential effect to VAB decisions. § 194.036(3), Fla.
is also not a local governing body like a city or
county commission. It does not promulgate ordinances,
determine and regulate local land use, or otherwise govern a
locale. See Broward Cty. v. G.B.V. Intl,
Ltd., 787 So.2d 838 (Fla. 2001) (illustrating county
commission function of regulating land use subject to limited
and deferential court review); Haines City Cmty. Dev. v.
Heggs, 658 So.2d 523 (Fla. 1995) (recognizing right of
judicial review of local administrative action of evicting
tenant from public property, under increasingly narrow
standards at each step of review); City of Deerfield
Beach v. Vaillant, 419 So.2d 624 (Fla. 1982) (noting
right to review but explaining narrow scope of review of
civil service board decision on employee termination). A VAB
merely serves to informally resolve tax disputes or attempt
to do so, and because of the de novo standard that applies in
circuit court and the circuit courts original, exclusive
jurisdiction, VAB decisions have no weight whatsoever in
circuit court litigation. See § 194.036(3), Fla.
Circuit Court Jurisdiction
important concepts apply to circuit court adjudication of tax
disputes: exclusivity and de novo review. The Florida
Constitution gives circuit courts "exclusive
original jurisdiction ... in all cases involving legality of
any tax assessment or toll" unless the Legislature
changes that by general law. Art. V, § 20(c)(3), Fla. Const.
(emphasis added). Far from having been changed by general
law, this requirement remains codified at section 194.171(1)
of the Florida Statutes ("The circuit courts have
original jurisdiction at law of all matters relating
to property taxation."), and at section 26.012(2)(e)
("[Circuit courts] shall have exclusive
original jurisdiction: ... In all cases involving
legality of any tax assessment or toll or denial of
refund.") (emphasis added). Thus, as already noted, it
is not necessary for a taxpayer to seek informal resolution
with the property appraiser or the VAB before filing suit in
court. § 194.011(2), (3), Fla. Stat. Both the property
appraiser and the taxpayer can go straight to circuit court
to litigate an assessment or exemption issue, and skip the
VAB altogether. § 194.171, Fla. Stat.
of the prior history of a dispute, review in circuit court is
de novo: "The circuit court proceeding shall be de novo,
and the burden of proof shall be upon the party initiating
the action." § 194.036(3), Fla. Stat. In circuit court
proceedings, there is no presumption of correctness as to
exemptions. § 194.301(2)(d), Fla. Stat. ("If the
challenge is to the classification or exemption status of the
property, there is no presumption of correctness, and the
party initiating the challenge has the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that the classification or
exempt status assigned to the property is incorrect.").
although proceedings in circuit court after earlier informal
attempts at dispute resolution are sometimes called
"appeals," a VAB decision is not
"appealable" in the formal sense of an appeal as a
review proceeding. Crossings, 991 So.2d at 801 n.6
("While this process is referred to as an appeal of
the boards decision, actions brought in the circuit court
pursuant to section 194.032, now section 194.036, are
original actions, not appeals." (quoting Williams v.
Law, 368 So.2d 1285, 1286 (Fla. 1979))). In circuit
court proceedings, the VAB resolution has no
precedential value and is owed no deference; the
property appraisers decision is reviewed de novo. §
194.036(3), Fla. Stat.
"Each year stands on its own."
general maxim of "each year stands on its own" is
foundational to the understanding of tax law, and has been
extended to the context of tax exemptions and not merely
valuations. Page v. City of Fernandina Beach, 714
So.2d 1070, 1072 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998) ("The taxable
status of property is determined on January 1 of each year.
See Section 192.042, Florida Statutes (1973). This
is the date on which the tax assessor determines whether a
particular parcel of property is entitled to exemption from
taxation for the tax year .") (emphasis added)
(citing Overstreet v. Ty-Tan, Inc., 48 So.2d 158
(Fla.1950)); Southlake Cmty. Found. v. Havill, 707
So.2d 361, 363 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998) (reaching merits of tax
exemption denial following earlier memorandum from property
appraiser that property was exempt); S. Bell Tel. & Tel.
Co. v. Broward Cty., 665 So.2d 272, 274-75 (Fla. 4th DCA
1995) (accepting the rule that every tax year stands alone
and finding on the facts presented that the rule was not
violated); Op. Atty Gen. Fla. 74-98 (1974) ("[T]he very
nature of a tax exemption and the laws establishing the same
preclude the application of this [preclusive] doctrine in tax
exemption cases.... Each years ... exemption must stand or
fall on its own validity, unconnected with ... any prior or
subsequent year ...."); see also Container
Corp. of Am. v. Long, 274 So.2d 571, 573 (Fla. 1st DCA
1973) ("Ad valorem taxes assessed against property in
this state for any given tax year must stand or fall on its
own validity, unconnected with the assessment made against
that land during any prior or subsequent year."),
superseded by statute in certain agricultural-exemption
cases Tilton v. Gardner, 52 So.3d 771, 778 &
n.5 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).
year-standing-alone concept reflects the nature of taxation
and the annual taxation process established in the Florida
Statutes. Property owners seeking tax exemptions must apply
annually, and failure to file "shall constitute a waiver
of the exemption privilege for that year." §
196.011(1)(a), Fla. Stat. After initially granting a tax
exemption, the property appraiser in subsequent years mails
taxpayer a renewal application, but the property appraiser
retains the discretion to deny even a renewal application. §
196.011(6)(a), Fla. Stat. ("Such renewal application
shall be accepted as evidence of exemption by the property
appraiser unless he or she denies the application
.") (emphasis added). The property appraiser also can
request the countys governing body to waive the requirement
of annual application for exemption as to properties not
excluded from such waiver by statute, which then shifts to
the property owner the burden of notifying the property
appraiser proactively of any changes that may affect the
exempt status of the property, subject to penalties for
failure to do so. § 196.011(9)(a), Fla. Stat. Even in that
context, which was the process followed in this case, the
statute contemplates the property appraisers discretion to
deny an exemption. § 196.011(9)(e), Fla. Stat. ("If an
exemption for which the annual application is waived pursuant
to this subsection will be denied by the property
appraiser in the absence of the refiling of the
application, notification of an intent to deny the
exemption shall be mailed to the owner of the property prior
to February 1.") (emphasis added).
corollary to the maxim that "each tax year stands on its
own" is that no taxpayer has a vested right to a tax
exemption. Sowell, 192 So.3d at 30-31 (relying in
part on the statutory procedures for tax exemptions as
evidencing the absence of a vested right to an exemption);
see also City of Largo v. AHF-Bay Fund,
LLC, 215 So.3d 10, 14-15 (Fla. 2017) (noting nonprofit
exemption statute requires taxpayer to take affirmative steps
to request exemption on an annual basis; the exemption is not
automatic and can be waived); Spencer Estates of Fla.,
LLC v. Havill, 125 So.3d 795, 796 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012)
(affirming circuit courts refusal to entertain taxpayers
attempt to punish property appraiser for failing to grant
exemption in 2009 and 2010, where pending case determining
taxpayers entitlement to exemption involved only tax year
2008; "[e]ach [tax] year stands on its own");
Davis v. Macedonia Housing Auth., 641 So.2d 131, 132
(Fla. 1st DCA 1994) (expressly rejecting trial courts ruling
that taxpayer was to be granted charitable tax exemption for
future years "absent a material change in applicable law
or a material change in Plaintiffs status or
operation," because exemption can be waived and
entitlement to exemption must be affirmatively demonstrated
unique and detailed legal framework brings us to agree with
Property Appraiser Crapo: administrative finality does not
attach to a VAB decision that is not subsequently adjudicated
in circuit court. Chief among the legal principles driving
this result are the status of Floridas property appraisers
as elected, independent constitutional officers; the
exclusive original jurisdiction of circuit court in tax
assessment matters under the constitution and sections
26.012(2)(e) and 194.171(1); the de-novo standard of review
required by section 194.036(3); and the one-year-at-a-time
concept embedded in rules, regulations, and longstanding tax
law practice and procedure. These foundational principles
permeate the processes set forth in the governing statutes,
establishing an annual process subject to annual renewal or
revisitation, embodying the concept that "each tax year
stands on its
own." The statutory scheme makes it clear that, while
VAB proceedings may often be useful in informal dispute
resolution, they are not to be accorded preclusive effect.
dissent seems to argue that the Legislatures creation and
regulation of VABs, and the role given them, at least does
not preclude the possibility that VAB decisions have
administrative finality effect. See Fla. Export
Tobacco Co. v. Dept. of Revenue, 510 So.2d 936, 955
(Fla. 1st DCA), review denied, 519 So.2d 986 (Fla. 1987). In
Export Tobacco, this Court held that the statutory
authorization of tax refund remedies before the Comptroller
or in Chapter-120 proceedings did not divest the circuit
courts of original exclusive jurisdiction in tax assessment
matters and did not confer res judicata effect upon such
proceedings, and that only the Legislature can specify the
extent of an administrative agencys quasi-judicial
functions. 510 So.2d at 955. If the Legislature had intended
for VAB decisions to have administrative finality, it surely
would not be difficult to pinpoint the statute so
providing— but there is none. To the contrary, the
Legislature has expressly retained a statutory structure
under which VAB decisions have no legal significance
whatsoever in subsequent circuit-court litigation.
dissent also argues that it is unfair not to give
administrative-finality effect to VAB decisions because it
forces taxpayers to defend their requests for exemptions year
after year even if they think their property and its
ownership and use have not changed from previous years when
exemptions were granted. This argument is misplaced for
several reasons. First, as a threshold factor, this argument
overlooks that the statutory and regulatory framework
mandates a year-at-a-time process. Even if an exemption is
granted, and re-application waived in favor of an automatic
renewal, it is only subject to the appraisers statutory
right to require a new or updated application. No one goes
into this with an absolute "right" to avoid
interacting with the property appraiser for more than a year.
Second, the nature of the dispute here was, and is, a
threshold legal question— the proper interpretation of
the educational exemption statute. Even if a tax-exemption
statute does not change, there remains the possibility of
differing interpretations of it over time as a body of law
develops on it. This is especially true for a
narrowly-applicable tax-exemption statute such as the one at
issue here. One would not expect hordes of lawsuits
generating reams of precedent on every arcane tax exemption,
and indeed judicial precedent can be entirely lacking. A
property appraisers initial interpretation of an exemption
statute may lie alone and untested until some precedent is
created on the issue, or until a change of professional
judgment— or a change of property appraiser—
occurs. In either event, the property appraiser has not only
the right but the duty to advance and apply the
interpretation deemed legally correct at the time. A new
office-holder should not be bound by erroneous positions
taken by a predecessor and not adopted by an Article-V court.
Our disposition of the Academys licensing issue is a perfect
example: it turns out Property Appraiser Crapos professional
judgment to deny this exemption was correct.
the Academys argument is one-sided, claiming a right to
revisit VAB decisions upon a change in taxpayer facts but not
upon a change in circumstances on the property appraiser
side. But a change on the taxpayer side of the equation
cannot be the only route into circuit court. We can envision