Court of Appeal:
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An outdoor advertising company overpaid its taxes by nearly $970,000, an agency of the City of Los Angeles has determined, but the Court of Appeal for this district on Friday reversed the granting a writ of mandate ordering the city to make a refund, holding that the availability of an action at law precludes furnishing extraordinary relief.
Presiding Justice Nora M. Manella of Div. Four wrote the opinion which reverses Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis J. Landin judgment in favor of the taxpayers, Outfront Media, LLC and its predecessor, CBS Outdoor, LLC.
Their appeal from Landin’s order denying attorney fees was dismissed as moot.
“[A] refund action provided Outfront an adequate legal remedy, precluding the issuance of a writ of mandate,” Manella wrote.
A 2012 tax audit by the city triggered an awareness of the billboard company that it had overpaid for the years 2010-13. The city’s Board of Review in 2018 agreed and ordered a refund, but the Office of Finance declined to pay, declaring the claim to be untimely.
Outfront sought a writ after the city did not honor its claim filed pursuant to the Government Claims Act (“GCA”).
Manella said that while the reversal is predicated solely on the unavailability of writ relief, “we additionally observe that Outfront’s presentation of its GCA claim was untimely as to most, if not all, of its overpayments.”
One-Year Time Bar
“Under the GCA, a tax refund claim must be presented to the relevant public entity within one year of accrual….Failure to present a GCA claim in a timely manner bars the claimant from initiating a judicial proceeding seeking monetary relief against the entity….This principle applies to proceedings in mandate, as well as to legal actions.”
The claim accrued, the presiding justice said, at the times the tax payments were made.
The case is Outfront Media v. City of Los Angeles, B304025.
Deputy City Attorney Daniel M. Whitley argued for the city while Leighton M. Anderson and Joseph A. Vinateri of the Whittier firm of Bewley, Lassleben & Miller acted for Outfront.
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