« Ind. Decisions - Transfer list for week ending March 26, 2010 | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 9 NFP) »

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Tax court posts two opinions dated March 26th

In Washington Township Assessor, et al. v. Trimas Fasterners, Inc., a 12-page opinion, Judge Fisher writes:

Sue Ann Stinson, in her official capacity as the Washington Township Assessor, Clinton County, and Dana Myers, in her official capacity as the Secretary of the Clinton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (collectively, the Assessor) challenge the final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) valuing the real property of Trimas Fasteners, Inc. (Trimas) for the 2002 assessment. The issue for the Court to decide is whether the Indiana Board's final determination was improper. * * *

The valuation of property is the formulation of an opinion; it is not an exact science. When there are competing opinions as to how a property should be valued, the Indiana Board must determine which opinion is more probative. That determination is, essentially, the result of how effectively each party has persuaded the Indiana Board that its value opinion is more credible and reliable than that of the other. Here, the Indiana Board found that Trimas's appraisal was more persuasive than the appraisals offered by the Assessor. Based on its review of evidence in the administrative record, the Court does not disagree. Consequently, the Indiana Board's final determination is AFFIRMED.

In Meijer Stores Limited Partnership v. Betty Smith, Wayne Township Assessor, et al., a 10-page opinion, Judge Fisher writes:
On August 16, 2006, the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) issued a final determination valuing the real property of Meijer Stores Limited Partnership (Meijer) for the 2002, 2003, and 2005 tax years (the years at issue). Meijer now challenges that final determination. * * *

In its appeal to this Court, Meijer asserts that the Indiana Board erred in rejecting its obsolescence analysis and its sales comparison analysis, as there was no evidence in the record that indicated that the analyses were unreliable. (See, e.g., Pet’r Br. at 15-19; Oral Argument Tr. at 10, 38-39.) In contrast, Wayne County asserts that the Indiana Board’s final determination is proper, as the Board simply fulfilled its statutory duties: it evaluated Meijer’s evidence and properly determined that several parts of the appraisal were entitled to no weight. (See, e.g., Resp’ts Br. at 7-17; Oral Argument Tr. at 28-30, 36-37 (footnote added).) * * *

This Court has previously stated that one of the most effective methods for a taxpayer to rebut the presumption of correctness afforded to an assessment made pursuant to Indiana’s assessing guidelines is through the presentation of a market value-in-use appraisal, completed in conformance with USPAP. See, e.g., Lakes of Four Seasons Prop. Owners’ Ass’n v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 875 N.E.2d 833, 837 n.7 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2007), review denied. Meijer presented such an appraisal. Accordingly, Wayne County needed to present some other market-based evidence that impeached Meijer’s appraisal and supported its own assessment. Wayne County presented no such evidence. Consequently, Meijer established that the actual market value-in-use of its property for the years at issue was $6,300,000.

For the above stated reasons, the final determination of the Indiana Board is REVERSED. The matter is REMANDED to the Indiana Board so that it may instruct the appropriate assessing officials to assess the subject property consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 29, 2010 12:47 PM
Posted to Ind. Tax Ct. Decisions