The Appellate Group

Salt Lake County v. Utah State Tax Commission

Salt Lake County v. Utah State Tax Commission, 2023 UT 24 (Hagen, J.)


The Property Tax Division valued an airline’s aircraft according to the statute’s preferred methodology. The County challenged the valuation before the Tax Commission claiming it violated the Utah Constitution because it did not reflect the fair market value of the airline’s aircraft. The Commission concluded that the Division correctly followed the statute’s requirements and that the County did not carry its burden to establish that the preferred method did not reasonably reflect the fair market value. The County petitioned the Utah Supreme Court for review of the Commission’s determination, arguing that the law was unconstitutional as applied by the Commission. The Utah Supreme Court upheld the Commission’s determination, holding:

  • The Commission did not err because the County did not make the showing necessary to trigger the alternative valuation method and could not demonstrate that the law, as applied to the airline’s assessment, violated the fair market value provision of the Utah Constitution.
  • Practice tip: To meet the burden required in an as-applied constitutional challenge, a party must show that there was something uniquely unconstitutional about the way in which the law was applied.
  • Practice tip: Under the Aircraft Valuation Law (Utah Code Section 59-2- 201), the Commission may use an alternative valuation method if two conditions are met.

Read the full court opinion