Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Board Finds Respondent Failed to Prove Assessment Correct with Argument County Complied with Mass Appraisal and Annual Trending Requirements

Excerpts of the Board's Determination follow:

c) The Respondent first argued that the assessment increase was due to a change in the quality grade of the improvements and a change in the amount of finished attic space. In other words, she claimed that in determining the property’s assessment, the Guidelines were more correctly applied than in the previous year. But while these changes would certainly result in an assessment increase, that explanation does nothing to prove the property’s market value-in-use on March 1, 2012. Further, arguments merely about how the Guidelines were applied are not sufficient to make a case. O’Donnell, 854 N.E.2d at 95; Eckerling v. Wayne Twp. Ass’r, 841 N.E.2d 764, 768 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2006).

d) The Respondent also argued that the assessment is correct because it complies with mass appraisal and annual trending requirements. However, regarding the Respondent’s claim that an assessment is acceptable if it is within 10% of the property’s market value-in-use, it appears that she may have confused that with the requirements of a mass-appraisal ratio study. An appeal of an individual assessment is an entirely different matter. Further, the Respondent failed to provide any authority for her contention that an individual assessment is correct if it falls within a 10% range.

e) In any case, the Respondent’s evidence does little to prove the value of the subject property. Regarding her offering of a purportedly comparable sale, the Respondent recognizes 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 relevant market values-in-use). Here, the Respondent failed to provide meaningful evidence to indicate how the subject property was comparable to her purported comparable property. Moreover, she offered nothing to explain or account for any differences between the two properties, and how those differences affected the respective values. Her evidence lacked the type of analysis contemplated by Long.

f) The argument relating to neighboring assessments similarly lacks probative value. True, a party may introduce evidence of assessments of comparable properties located in the same taxing district or within two miles of the boundary of the taxing district. See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-18. But just as with the sales-comparison approach, the determination of whether the properties are comparable must be based on generally accepted appraisal and assessment principles. Once again, the Respondent failed to offer a meaningful comparison of the parcels in terms of characteristics that would affect their respective market values-in-use.

g) Because the Respondent did not offer probative evidence to support the assessment, she failed to meet her burden of proof. The 2012 assessment is reduced to the 2011 total assessed value, which was $164,300. The Petitioner, though, sought an even lower assessment. The Board now turns to the Petitioner’s evidence.

22. The Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case for reducing the assessment below the 2011 value.

a) The Petitioner failed to offer any market-based valuation evidence of his own. His request appears to be based on the current land assessed value, and the March 1, 2008, improvement assessed value. See Resp’t Ex. 3. Those values do not constitute probative evidence of the market value-in-use on March 1, 2012. 

b) The Petitioner failed to make a prima facie case for lowering the 2012 assessment below the 2011 assessed value.