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WV Supreme Court takes up Alcan tax case

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Did the West Virginia tax department present enough substantial evidence to support its valuation of Alcan Rolled Products-Ravenswood's industrial personal property in a hearing before the Jackson County Board of Equalization and Review?

This is one of the questions presented in the case of Alcan Rolled Products, nka Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, against West Virginia State Tax Commissioner Craig Griffith, Jackson County Assessor Brian K. Thomas and the Jackson County Commission.

Parties appeared before the West Virginia Supreme Court May 14, where they debated the merits of the Jackson County Circuit Court case, which affirmed the board of equalization and review's order upholding the appraised value of Alcan's industrial personal property.

In its brief to the state's highest court, Alcan says the tax department didn't present evidence to support its valuation method and also failed to respond to Alcan's expert, who said there were flaws in the valuation method.

Alcan listed eight assignments of error in its brief.

First, it said the circuit court erred by ruling the tax department properly trended the property's acquisition cost, even though they say there was a lack of record evidence that the calculations were proper.

Additionally, Alcan asserts the court should not have ruled the tax department properly depreciated the property's acquisition cost, properly accounted for obsolescence by deducting only 10 percent of the property's depreciated value and by ruling the tax department's valuation for Alcan's industrial personal property for the 2010 tax year was supported by substantial evidence.

Alcan says the court should have found Alcan's expert's findings were the only record evidence on the trending calculation, depreciation of the property trended acquisition cost, calculation of the further obsolescence reduction to the property's depreciated value and finding of the value of Alcan's industrial personal property for the 2010 tax year.

In its brief, Alcan says the issue isn't whether the property tax division acted within discretion when choosing a method to value the personal property but whether it supported its valuation method in response to Alcan's expert.

The brief states the tax department appraised Alcan's machinery and equipment at $92,960,786, but Alcan's appraiser said it was worth $41,000,656.

However, the tax department said in its brief that its selection of trend and depreciation tables is supported by substantial record evidence and said Alcan did not "present clear and convincing evidence" enough to require the West Virginia Supreme Court to reverse the circuit court decision.

The tax department additionally said its reduction in value for functional obsolescence is supported by substantial evidence.

"Alcan has failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the tax department's selection of trend and depreciation tables was clearly wrong or arbitrary and capricious," the tax department's brief states.