The Shoals Mill Development, Ltd.
Shelby County Board of Equalization
from Shelby Circuit Court (CV-16-900499)
31, 2016, the Shelby County Board of Equalization ("the
Board") issued its final ad valorem tax assessment
("the assessment") on real property owned by The
Shoals Mill Development, Ltd. ("Shoals Mill").
Shoals Mill filed a notice of appeal from the assessment with
the Shelby Circuit Court ("the trial court") on
June 22, 2016; Shoals Mill posted the required bond and
requested that the Shelby Circuit Clerk ("the
clerk") serve the notice of appeal on the secretary of
the Board by certified mail. See Ala. Code 1975,
§ 40-3-25. The clerk sent the notice of appeal,
addressed to the secretary of the Board, by certified mail on
June 28, 2016. The secretary of the Board received the notice
of appeal on July 1, 2016.
September 30, 2016, the Board moved to dismiss Shoals
Mill's appeal. In its motion and the accompanying brief
in support of the motion, the Board argued that Shoals Mill
had failed to satisfy the requirements of § 40-3-25
because the notice of appeal had not been filed with the
secretary of the Board within 30 days of the assessment.
Shoals Mill responded to the motion to dismiss, arguing that,
pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 40-1-45, the timely
mailing of the notice of appeal to the secretary of the Board
satisfied the requirement of timely filing of the notice of
appeal. After a hearing, the trial court, on December 2,
2016, entered a judgment dismissing Shoals Mill's appeal.
Mill timely appealed the trial court's judgment to this
court; however, because Shoals Mill's appeal to the trial
court challenged the valuation of its property, Shoals
Mill's appeal falls within the jurisdiction of our
supreme court. See § 40-3-25; State v.
Tuskegee Univ., 730 So.2d 617, 618 (Ala. 1999)
(explaining that, under § 40-3-25, "appeals may be
made directly to [our supreme court] only where the valuation
of property is at issue"). We transferred the appeal to
our supreme court, which transferred the appeal to this
court, pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 12-2-7(6).
appeal, Shoals Mill argues that the trial court erred by
dismissing its appeal because, it contends, its notice was
timely filed with the secretary of the Board by virtue of its
timely mailing under § 40-1-45. The Board
contends, as it did in the trial court, that Shoals Mill did
not comply with the requirement of § 40-3-25 that the
notice of appeal be "file[d] ... with the secretary of
the board of equalization" within 30 days of the
assessment. According to the Board, the notice of appeal must
be timely received by the secretary of the Board to
satisfy § 40-3-25.
facts underlying this appeal are undisputed, and the issue
presented is one "requir[ing] the application of law to
those facts; accordingly, our review is de novo."
Target Corp. v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Equalization,
197 So.3d 1006, 1007 (Ala. Civ. App. 2015). Shoals Mill filed
its notice of appeal with the clerk on June 22, 2016, within
30 days of the May 31, 2016, assessment. The clerk mailed the
notice of appeal to the secretary of the Board via certified
mail on June 28, 2016, within the 30-day appeal period.
However, the notice was not received by the secretary of the
Board until July 1, 2016, after the expiration of the 30-day
appeal period. Thus, we must determine whether, as the Board
contends, § 40-3-25 requires that the notice of appeal
be received by the secretary of the Board before the
expiration of the 30-day appeal period or whether, as Shoals
Mill contends, § 40-1-45 operates to make the notice of
appeal timely under § 40-3-25 if the notice is timely
mailed within the 30-day appeal period but received
after the expiration of the period.
right of appeal in tax proceedings is a right conferred by
statute and must be exercised in the mode and within the time
prescribed by the statute.'" Ex parte
Shelby Cty. Bd. of Equalization, 159 So.3d 1, 4
(Ala. 2014) (quoting Denson v. First Nat'l Bank,
276 Ala. 146, 148, 159 So.2d 849, 850 (1964)). Because the
parties urge different constructions of the statutes at issue
in the present case, we must construe § 40-3-25 and
§ 40-1-45. To do so, we must
"'ascertain and effectuate legislative intent as
expressed in the statute.' Alabama Farm Bureau Mutual
Casualty Insurance Co. v. City of Hartselle, 460 So.2d
1219, 1223 (Ala. 1984). 'To ascertain that intent, we
must first focus our attention on the language of the
[statute], and we must give effect to the intent clearly
expressed therein if the language is unambiguous.'
City of Millbrook v. Tri-Community Water System, 692
So.2d 866, 867 (Ala. Civ. App. 1997)(citing
Hartselle, 460 So.2d at 1223). 'Words used in
the statute must be given their natural, plain, ordinary, and
commonly understood meaning.' Hartselle, 460
So.2d at 1223."
Yelverton's, Inc. v. Jefferson Cty., 742 So.2d
1216, 1222 (Ala. Civ. App. 1997).
"Further, it is well established that
'"[s]ections of the Code dealing with the same
subject matter are in pari materia. As a general
rule, such statutes should be construed together to ascertain
the meaning and intent of each."' New Joy Young
Restaurant, Inc. v. State Dep't of Revenue, 667
So.2d 1384 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995) (quoting Locke v.
Wheat, 350 So.2d 451, 453 (Ala. 1977)). Finally,
'[this court] recognize[s] that a statute should be
construed, if possible, to give effect to every section
thereof, and that the legislature should not be deemed to
have done a vain and useless thing.'
State of Alabama Home Builders Licensure Bd. v.
Sowell, 699 So.2d 214 (Ala. Civ. App. 1997)."
State v. Amerada Hess Corp., 788 So.2d 179, 183-84
(Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
appeal of a tax assessment by a county board of equalization
must comply with the requirements of § 40-3-25, which
reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
"All appeals from the rulings of the board of
equalization fixing value of property shall be taken within
30 days after the final decision of said board fixing the
assessed valuation as provided in this chapter. The taxpayer
shall file notice of said appeal with the secretary of the
board of equalization and with the clerk of the circuit court
and shall file bond to be filed with and approved by the
clerk of the circuit court, conditioned to pay all costs
§ 40-1-45(a) provides that the date of mailing of a
document required to be filed under Title 40 ("the
revenue code") will be considered the date of filing,
provided that the document is mailed within the applicable
prescribed period, is actually delivered to the ...