New Ipswich citizen Kane challenging town on taxes

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/27/2017 6:02:08 AM

A resident is suing the New Ipswich town officials after arguing that his house should not be subject to his property tax assessment.

According to court documents, Michael E. Kane of Wheeler Road believes that his property is a “household utensil,” which is not required to pay taxes on. He further contends, records show, that his protest of such was treated unconstitutionally by the town, which violated his constitutional rights.

An initial suit was filed with the U.S. District Court in Concord in April 2016, which was terminated on Jan. 6, 2017. Kane filed to bring it to the U.S. Court of Appeals last week, April 19.

Named as defendants in the case are the town of New Ipswich; former Selectmen Becky Doyle, Woody Meiszner and George Lawrence; assessors James Coffey and Jeanne Cunningham; Selectman David Lage; Town Administrator Joanne Meshna; and Town Clerk and Tax Collector Jessica Olson.

Originally, Kane sought to demand $57 million in damages: $40 million from the town, $10 million from Olson and an additional $1 million from the other seven individual defendants.

According to Olson, she has since been instructed not to send him tax bill reminders.

According to court documents, Kane’s initial complaint alleged that his property was a “household utensil,” which would make it exempt from property tax assessment pursuant to RSA 80:9.

Additionally, documents shows, his complaints come from dissatisfaction with the response to his protests, “which he claims have been cruel, dismissive, and insufficient.”

In an amended complaint, he alleged that the defendants his First, Eight, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Mostly, these civil rights complaints pertain to the town’s treatment of Kane regarding his tax protests.

He said, according to court filings, that, “The conduct of the Town and its attorney regarding me questions [about his tax bill], by responding with snarky word games and/or failing to respond at all to my serious concerns, was unjust, discourteous, and shocking to the conscience.”

This, he said, led to emotional anguish and feelings of powerlessness, documents show. For this anguish, he demands compensatory damages totaling $57 million, documents show. He also would like all of the officials immediately removed from office, documents show.

He targets Olson for the largest penalty because of an incident in August 2015 in which he was paying his tax bill and she was performing her duty as tax collector, according to documents.

On Aug. 26, 2015, according to court documents, he appeared at the tax collector’s window on the deadline of his tax deed. He allegedly told her the payment was extortion and was upset that she did not recognize him from his letters. When she disagreed with his protest, he allegedly began tossing bundles of money on the counter.

Allegedly feeling threatened, Olson called the police. Kane paid his taxes before noticing the police were there, the filing indicates.

The filing also quotes Kane arguing that Olson attempted to “cause (the police) to kill or otherwise injure [him], or to remove [him] from the town office.” He also allegedly suggested that she tried to prevent him from paying his taxes  so she could use the statutory tax deed process “take my shelter and extinguish my family.”

A court file date to February 2017 says, “The circumstances that Kane describes do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s procedural or substantive due process requirements.”

It adds that he was not selectively treated and any alleged discrimination was not purposeful due to an improper basis.

In denying his motion, it explicitly said, “he provides no specific factual support.”

He requested, in addition to any damages paid through the civil case, criminal charges be brought against the individual defendants, documents show.

Based on data in the NH Tax Kiosk, Kane owes $13,536.16 in taxes. His Wheeler Road property is assessed at $128,100.

According to the data, which goes back to 2008, Kane owes $5,283.63 on a 2014 bill, $4,594.73 from 2015, and $3,657.80 from 2016.

Olson said he tends to pay when he is in jeopardy, three years behind.

An attorney for the town, Michael Courtney said he would not comment at this time. Kane was not reached at the phone number listed in documents.


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