Town Wins Tax Exemption Appeal

In a case of first impression, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, denied an appeal by a property owner challenging two decisions of the Town of Steuben assessors to deny the property owner’s claim to be exempt from local property taxation.  In the case, Humboldt Field Research Institute v. Town of Steuben (2011 ME 130), Bill Dale and Mark Bower successfully argued on behalf of the Town that the property owner—a non-profit organization—always bears the burden of proof to show entitlement to a property tax exemption under 36 M.R.S.A. § 652, even if the assessors had exempted the property from taxation in prior years.  The Law Court’s opinion reaffirms its prior case law precedent that “taxation is the rule and exemption is the exception.”