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In re Protest Appeal of Rakestraw Bros., L.L.C.

Court of Appeals of Kansas

October 17, 2014

In the Matter of the Protest Appeal of RAKESTRAW BROTHERS, L.L.C., for Tax Year 2011 in Kingman County, Kansas

Page 63

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 64

Appeal from Court of Tax Appeals.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. Administrative agencies are created by statute, so they have only the powers granted by statute. An agency may create a jurisdictional requirement only if the legislature has specifically authorized it to do so. Mere authority to adopt rules does not authorize the agency to adopt jurisdictional rules; the authority to set jurisdictional limits must come from express statutory language.

2. Neither K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 74-2433f(e) nor K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 74-2437 give the Court of Tax Appeals the authority to adopt regulations that would set jurisdictional requirements for parties appearing before it.

3. The Kansas Legislature has provided in K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 74-2433f(f) that a taxpayer may appear through a tax representative or agent in the small-claims division of the Court of Tax Appeals. Accordingly, when a tax representative signs a form entry of appearance to begin the taxpayer's appeal in the small-claims division, that form, when timely filed, provides the Court of Tax Appeals subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the appeal even if the representative is neither an attorney nor the taxpayer's officer or employee.

Patrick B. Hughes and Bradley A. Stout, of Adams Jones Law Firm, P.A., of Wichita, for appellant Rakestraw Brothers, L.L.C.

S. Eric Steinle and Carole K. DeWald, of Martindell, Swearer, Shaffer, Ridenour, LLP, of Hutchinson, for appellee Kingman County, Kansas.

Before POWELL, P.J., LEBEN and ARNOLD-BURGER, JJ.

OPINION

Page 65

Leben, J.:

When Rakestraw Brothers, LLC, wanted to appeal the tax valuation of its oil lease by Kingman County, it hired Kenton Hupp, a petroleum engineer, to handle the appeal. Hupp filed a notice of appeal on Rakestraw Brothers' behalf with the small-claims division of the Court of Tax Appeals.

The Court of Tax Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the notice of appeal had to be signed either by a member or officer of Rakestraw Brothers or by a licensed attorney. But the Kansas Legislature has specifically provided that " [a] party . . . may be represented by a . . . tax representative or agent" in the small-claims division. K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 74-2433f(f). We therefore conclude that the Court of Tax Appeals was wrong to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and we remand for a hearing on the merits of the appeal.

Factual and Procedural Background

Rakestraw Brothers hired Hupp to handle the appeal of Kingman County's valuation of its oil lease for the 2011 tax year. Hupp is a licensed petroleum engineer who does consulting work, including work related to the valuation of oil leases. Aside from consulting with Rakestraw Brothers about the valuation of its oil lease, he was not employed by Rakestraw Brothers.

Hupp signed a notice of appeal on a form provided by the Court of Tax Appeals. He signed as the taxpayer's representative and attached a " Declaration of Representative," stating that he would serve as Rakestraw Brothers' representative during the appeal. Hupp paid the $150 filing fee and sent a letter to the small-claims ...


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