Taxation and Abatement: Double Taxation Is Error in Assessment, Not Error in Valuation

Verrill assisted the Maine State Chamber of Commerce with drafting its amicus brief in a case in which two Maine towns refused Emera Maine’s request for a tax abatement. The Town of Eddington and the Town of Bradley each assessed property taxes on both Emera Maine and Maine Electric Power Company for the same electric transmission line based upon an error in a list of property prepared by Emera’s accountant. When the mistake was discovered, Emera sought an abatement, which the towns refused to grant, claiming that there was an error in valuation of property, rather than an illegality, error, or irregularity in the assessment. Emera appealed to the Board of Property Tax Abatement, which granted the abatement. The towns appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the Board. On appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sitting as the Law Court, the abatement was upheld. The Law Court found that the towns taxing the same line twice constituted an illegality, error or irregularity in the assessment, which entitled Emera to an abatement. Town of Eddington, et al v. Emera Maine, 2017 ME 225