October 10, 2008

County given broad discretion to levy and collect taxes on new home construction


Appellants, a group of homebuilders, appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee Williamson County. Homebuilders filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Williamson County, seeking interpretation of Chapter 118 of the Private Acts of 1987 as amended. Under the alleged authority granted by the Act, Williamson County levied additional adequate facilities taxes on homebuilders based upon its audit of actual square footage built. Builders contend that Williamson County exceeded its authority under the Act by calculating taxes at the time of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy as opposed to the time the building permit was issued. Finding that the Legislature intended to give the County broad authority to levy its tax at the time of the issuance of the building permit or at the time of the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, we affirm.

Opinion may be found at the TBA website:

"The overarching goal of the tax is also clearly stated in Section 3 of the Act. The purpose of the tax is “to ensure and require that the persons responsible for new development share in the burdens of growth by paying their fair share for the cost of new and expanded public facilities...” (emphasis added). In order to facilitate the goal of the Act, the tax should necessarily be based upon the actual square footage of the improvement." Id.

"From this language, it is clear that the Legislature did not intend to limit the County’s ability to collect this tax. Rather, in order to ensure that the tax is levied upon the full square footage,
Williamson County is given broad discretion to calculate the tax at a time suitable to ascertaining the actual square footage." Id.