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630. Appeals from Appellate Tax Board Decisions and Probate Court Judgments

A taxpayer whose petition to the Appellate Tax Board (ATB) or probate court has been denied may appeal that decision.  A Notice of Appeal is required to be filed with the ATB or probate court within 60 days of the date of the entry of judgment appealed from.  See Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rules 3 and 4.  For appeals filed with the ATB, the date of the entry of judgment shall be the date of the entry of the ATB’s decision unless a timely request for findings of fact and report is made to the ATB.  In such a case, the date of entry of judgment shall be the date of the promulgation of the Board’s findings of fact and report.  The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and the Appeals Court have concurrent jurisdiction over cases decided by the ATB and probate courts.[1]  Application to the Appeals Court is always the first step in obtaining judicial review of such a case, but a party (or two or more parties jointly) may, within 20 days after an appeal is docketed in the Appeals Court, apply in writing to the SJC for direct appellate review.  The SJC will generally grant direct review only if the questions presented by the appeal are:
 

(1) questions of first impression or novel questions of law; or

(2) questions of law concerning either the Constitution of the United States or of the Commonwealth; or

(3) questions of such public interest that justice requires a final determination by the SJC.
 

The SJC may also order direct appellate review on its own initiative, or the Appeals Court may certify that direct review by the SJC is in the public interest.

A party may appeal to the SJC from an Appeals Court decision by applying for further appellate review within 20 days after the date of the rescript of the Appeals Court.  An application for further appellate review must be founded upon substantial reasons affecting the public interest or the interests of justice.  This review will not be granted unless the Appeals Court certifies that the public interest or the interests of justice make further appellate review desirable, or unless three justices of the SJC specifically authorize the appeal for substantial reasons affecting the public interest.

To prevail on appeal, the party contesting the ATB's decision must show that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence or was erroneous as a matter of law.  The Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure govern all appeals, whether at the Appeals Court or SJC.


REFERENCES:
G.L. c. 58A, § 13
G.L. c. 65, §§ 25, 26
G.L. c. 211A, § 1 et seq.
Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure
Massachusetts Rules of the Supreme Judicial Court, Rule 2:20
Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 13 Mass. App. 492, appeal after remand, 17 Mass. App. 326 (1982)



[1] Since ATB decisions are final as to findings of fact, decisions of the ATB reached under G.L. c. 65, §§ 25 and 26, relating to the valuation of estate assets by the Commissioner are generally final.  See Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co. v. Commissioner of Revenue, 13 Mass. App. 492, appeal after remand, 17 Mass. App. 326 (1982).