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VOL. 124 | NO. 69 | Thursday, April 9, 2009

Johnson’s Work Dovetails With Reappraisal Process

By Rebekah Hearn

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter | Comments ()
Position: Partner
Firm: Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP
Basics: Johnson, whose practice concentrates on tax collection, is keeping a watchful eye on the Shelby County reappraisal process. Her firm pursues delinquencies from homeowners after 17 months of arrears.
“The statutes are pretty much set. They change occasionally, so you just have to make sure you stay on top of the interpretation of the statute through case law and of course any changes that come through.”
– Pamela Johnson

Pamela Johnson, a partner at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, practices in tax collection.

She serves on the diversity committee for the Memphis Bar Association, is a Memphis Bar fellow and participates in the GOAL program at Shelby County Juvenile Court. Johnson is a member of the Association for Women Attorneys and the Ben F. Jones chapter of the National Bar Association. She also sits on the boards of Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. and the John Dustin Buckman branch of the Boys and Girls Club.

Johnson received her undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Oklahoma and her law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Prior to joining Linebarger, Johnson was involved with primary personal injury law.

Q: You are in charge of Linebarger’s local office, which handles the city’s tax collections. The big tax-related issue people are discussing now is the property reappraisals. How will the reappraisals affect taxes, especially now that we know the 2009 reappraisals of most of the Memphis properties?

A: It can do one of two things. Most of what I’ve heard – because we don’t get involved in the appraisals, we just do the collection part of it – is for some, the appraisals have gone up, so that would be a potential increase in revenue for all of the cities and county. In addition, there are some that have gone down, so because of some of the foreclosures and decrease in values of the property, it could be a net wash or it could be a decrease in revenue in some areas. It’s hard to tell.

Q: How does the revenue get divided for the city? Is there a board that determines that?

A: That would all happen at the city level, and I wouldn’t have any information on that. We just collect it after (citizens have) gone delinquent. They don’t get turned over to us until after they’ve been delinquent for 17 months.

Q: What brought you to practice in the area of tax collection?

A: I actually worked for Linebarger when I was in school. Years ago, it was probably 1985, 1986, somewhere in there, they were just starting up in Dallas County, Dallas, Texas, and I did some temporary work for them. When I graduated from college, they allowed me to work for them while I looked for a job in my degree. I worked for a mortgage company for a little over a year and decided I wasn’t happy, and the firm allowed me to work for them as a paralegal. I say I kind of grew up in the firm. I went to law school and worked in Houston for about two years in private practice … and I went back to work as an attorney (for Linebarger) in 1995.

Q: Is there a method of discipline to keeping up with tax collection?

A: With our side of tax collection, pretty much the statutes don’t change a lot with the property tax collection. ... The statutes are pretty much set. They change occasionally, so you just have to make sure you stay on top of the interpretation of the statute through case law and of course any changes that come through. There may be a change in whether or not you have to pay an undisputed portion before you can appeal. ... For the most part, the statutes are pretty rock solid. On behalf of the taxing authorities, we pretty much are in a winning situation. But sometimes there may be some due-process issues that we have to litigate and some questions that maybe have not been interpreted by the courts before, but for the most part the statutes are pretty rock solid.

Q: Is it an exaggeration that tax law constantly changes?

A: That would be tax-law related to federal income taxes and not necessarily property taxes. That’s totally different.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work – hobbies, activities, anything fun you like to do to take your mind off of work?

A: I like to read. I’ll take in some dancing every now and then, even take a dance class. And certainly spending time with my children. I have twins, and they take up quite a bit of my time when I’m not at work, so I have to strike a good balance with family and work.

PROPERTY SALES 76 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 83 131 1,047
BUILDING PERMITS 190 277 3,028