'We feel as though the agencies that are responsible for our well being and fair taxation have not done their job, and we want to ask the courts to basically compel them to do their job correctly, according to state statute,' William Quapp said.
WASATCH COUNTY, Utah — Several Wasatch County property owners are suing both Wasatch County and the Utah State Tax Commission citing unfair taxation and misconduct.
The complaint was filed in Utah’s Fourth District Court on Nov. 2 by Wasatch County property owners William Quapp, Rick Lindsey, Jayme Holdings LLC, an Illinois company, and Big Pole Estates Homeowners Association, against Todd Griffin, the Wasatch County assessor, as well as the Utah State Tax Commission and several of its members.
The initial complaint centers on what the petitioners claim to be the failures of both Griffin and the Utah State Tax Commission to fully appraise and assess all properties located within Wasatch County, resulting in inequitable taxation.
According to Quapp, who serves on the Architectural Review Committee for the Big Pole Estates Homeowners Association, the issue began when he received his preliminary tax notice in the summer of 2022.
“When I opened up and read the preliminary tax notice, my assessed value had gone up 166% and my taxes went up 112%,” Quapp said. “Well, that was a pretty big pill to swallow. The dollar value was from around $3,000 to $6,500 in one swoop.”
Quapp then began to research other local property owner’s assessments using Wasatch County’s Property Tax Information Lookup System.
“I ended up finishing about 111 properties and found that there was a pattern, that many people in different subdivisions had gotten reassessed with very large increases,” “Quapp said. “And there were some subdivisions that got no change in their tax value, so that caused me to wonder, why?”
Although Utah State Code requires that the assessor update property values annually, Quapp’s research led him to believe that reassessments were not conducted for approximately 8,869 Wasatch County properties in 2022. This would have resulted in those property owners paying about 20% less than they would have paid in property taxes had their properties been reassessed.
“Because of the lack of a county-wide appraisal, the assessed values of Wasatch County are largely undercalculated,” stated the petition. “An inequitable tax was therefore applied because certain properties were taxed based upon higher assessments and other properties were taxed based upon stale and dated assessments. This places a higher tax burden on property owners who had their property assessed in 2022.”
In Griffin’s answer to the petition, his attorney denies all allegations associated with the lawsuit.
Quapp and the other petitioners have asked the court to order that the Utah State Tax Commission and Griffin conduct a full assessment on the properties within Wasatch County, and create a mass appraisal system that complies with Utah State Code.
Wasatch County was one of 10 counties throughout Utah that opted not to provide data for the Utah Office of the State Auditor’s Property Values Tool, which was released last summer.
John Dougall, the Utah State Auditor, had strong words for Wasatch and Summit Counties specifically in a July press release.
“Unfortunately, some assessors do not welcome greater access to public assessment data,” Dougall said. “I’m concerned with those county officials who create barriers, making it difficult or costly for taxpayers to access, analyze, and use public information. Over the past couple of years, Wasatch and Summit County property owners expressed concerns with inequitable assessment in their counties. Yet their assessors failed to provide public information for this tool. Every Utahn should be troubled by those who struggle to effectively perform their constitutional duty and shun public engagement and oversight.”
While Summit County later launched its own property valuation tool, Wasatch County has yet to.
The petitioners also asked the court to order that the Utah State Tax Commission remedy the incomplete assessments in Wasatch County as well as any associated inequitable tax burdens, and for an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
“We feel as though the agencies that are responsible for our well being and fair taxation have not done their job, and we want to ask the courts to basically compel them to do their job correctly, according to state statute,” Quapp said.
An amended petition dated Dec. 19 adds both Wasatch County and Jon Woodard, deputy county attorney for Wasatch County, as defendants. It asks that Woodard and the County be barred from interfering with Big Pole Estates’ tax appeal, and also asks that Griffin be removed from office for misconduct and neglect of duty.
Defendants from both Wasatch County and the Utah State Tax Commission have filed to dismiss the case.
Griffin declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation.
- Wasatch County Assessor