Thursday, February 13, 2014

Board Rejects Tax Rep's Sales Comparable Evidence as "Random" and Error Ridden

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

Here, the Petitioners, through their tax representative Ms. LeVeque, randomly offered sales and assessment comparisons in an attempt to prove that the assessment of the subject property is too high. First, regarding the purportedly comparable sales, the Petitioners recognize that one can estimate the value of a subject property by analyzing the sales of comparable properties. A party offering such evidence must show that the properties are generally comparable to each other, and also must show how any relevant differences affect the relative values. See Long, 821 N.E.2d at 470-71 (holding that, in applying the sales-comparison approach, the taxpayers needed to explain how any differences between their property and the properties to which they sought to compare it affected the properties’ relevant market values-in-use). Ms. LeVeque’s analysis of comparability was limited to conclusory statements as to whether each purportedly comparable property was inferior or superior to the subject. Her evidence lacked the type of analysis contemplated by Long.

42. Another way to show a property’s market value-in-use is through assessments of comparable properties. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-18. But Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-18 does not automatically make evidence of other assessments probative. Instead, the party relying on those assessments must apply generally accepted appraisal and assessment practices to show that the properties are comparable to the property under appeal. Again, conclusory statements that a property is “similar” or “comparable” to another property do not suffice. See Long, 821 N.E.2d at 470. One must identify the characteristics of the property under appeal and explain how those characteristics compare to the characteristics of the other properties. Id. at 471. Similarly, one must explain how any differences between the other properties and the property under appeal affect the properties’ relative market values-in-use. Id. This Ms. LeVeque did not achieve.

43. Here, the Petitioners’ representative failed to discuss how the properties she submitted as comparable property were similar to the subject property or how they differed. The Petitioners’ evidence did little to quantitatively or qualitatively show how the differences between the properties affected their relative values. Furthermore, the Petitioners’ evidence lacked credibility based on the fact that mistakes were made by the Petitioners’ representative. The Board therefore finds that the Petitioners failed to raise a prima facie case that their property was over-valued for the 2011 assessment year.

44. Where a Petitioner has not supported its claim with probative evidence, the Respondent’s duty to support the assessment with substantial evidence is not triggered. Lacy Diversified Indus. LTD v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 799 N.E.2d 1215, 1221-22 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003).