State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Revenue and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, Petitioners
John Medved and Debra Medved. Respondents
Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Case No. 15CA1514
Attorneys for Petitioners: Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General
Grant T. Sullivan, Assistant Solicitor General Noah C.
Patterson, Senior Assistant Attorney General Denver, Colorado
Attorneys for Respondents: Fox Rothschild LLP Christopher J.
Dawes Christopher T. Groen Marsha M. Piccone Denver. Colorado
JUSTICE BOATRIGHT does not participate.
¶1 Whites Corporation donated a conservation easement
(CE) and transferred a portion of the resulting CE tax credit
to John and Debra Medved. In 2006, the Medveds filed a return
claiming the credit. In 2007, Whites Corporation did the
same. In 2011, the Colorado Department of Revenue (the
Department) disallowed the credit in its entirety. The
Medveds claim that the Department acted too late because
their 2006 filing triggered the four-year limitations period
within which the Department may invalidate a CE tax credit.
The Department disagrees, asserting that Whites
Corporation's 2007 filing triggered the limitations
period, and therefore the disallowance stands.
To resolve their dispute, we must interpret section
39-22-522(7)(i), C.R.S. (2005), which states in part that the
CE donor shall "represent and bind the transferees
with respect to . . . the statute of limitations." The
Department issued a regulation interpreting the statute to
mean that "[t]he statute of limitations of the
transferor . . . will also apply to the transferees of the
credit." Dep't of Revenue Reg.
201-2:39-22-522(3)(g)(viii), 1 Colo. Code Regs. 201-2 (2018).
The Department, unsurprisingly, argues that this
interpretation is correct and that its regulation is entitled
A division of the court of appeals disagreed. Medved v.
State, 2016 COA 157M, ¶ 11, ___ P.3d ___. The
division found the statute's language ambiguous,
id. at ¶ 16, and concluded that the General
Assembly intended for the first claim filed to trigger the
limitations period, id. at ¶ 24. The division
acknowledged that the Department's regulation was
entitled to "due deference" but ultimately declined
to follow it because it clashed with the statute's
purpose and legislative history. Id. at ¶ 25.
The Department appealed.
We hold that the statute of limitations period begins when
the CE donor claims the CE tax credit. This accrual applies
to and binds any transferees of the credit. So, the
limitations period here began when Whites Corporation filed
its tax return in 2007, and the Department's disallowance
occurred before the period expired. We reach this conclusion
based on the plain language of the statute. Because the
Department's regulation comports with our plain language
reading, we need not determine whether it is entitled to
Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals
and remand for further proceedings consistent with this
Facts and Procedural History
In March 2006, the Medveds purchased a portion of the CE tax
credit resulting from Whites Corporation's donation of a
The Department later discovered that the CE tax credit was
invalid and disallowed it in its entirety. Three dates are
crucial to understanding this dispute:
• October 2006: The Medveds filed their 2005 state
income tax return claiming the CE tax credit.
• October 2007: Whites Corporation filed its 2005 state
income tax return claiming the CE tax credit and identifying