Byzantine Catholic Bishop v. County Assessor, 2011 WL 4444186 (Ore. Tax 2012)
Background. In 2007, a church (the "plaintiff") acquired property through a warranty deed from another church. The title company incorrectly listed the church's mailing address on the deed. At the time of the conveyance, the property was exempt from taxation on the basis of its religious use. The use of the property did not change when ownership changed; the property was used for religious services by both the old and the new owners.
Late in 2007, a local tax assessor sent the plaintiff a "Notification of Status Change" for the 2008-2009 tax year. This notice was sent to the incorrect address listed on the deed. The notice stated: "An application is enclosed with this notice for you to file … for a tax exemption on the above referenced location." The reason listed on the notice for the status change was a "change of ownership." The 2009-2010 tax statement for the property also was sent to the plaintiff at the incorrect address listed on the deed. The plaintiff didn't receive either statement. Both were returned unopened to the assessor's office by the post office. No payments were made when the property taxes became due.
The plaintiff did not receive this notice, which was returned unopened to the assessor by the post office with the notation "NMR," no mail receptacle, on the envelope. The assessor placed the unopened notice in the plaintiff's file. The assessor did not search its records or other sources to locate a different address for the plaintiff.