ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONER: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
STEPHEN E. DEVOE STEVE CARTER
B. KEITH SHAKE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
HENDERSON DAILY WITHROW Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis, IN TED J. HOLADAY
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
INDIANAPOLIS RACQUET CLUB, INC., )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-0206-TA-59
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP )
(MARION COUNTY ) ASSESSOR, )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF
THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
February 6, 2004
The Petitioner, Indianapolis Racquet Club, Inc. (IRC), appeals from a final determination of
the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) valuing its real property for
the 1991 assessment year. The issues presented for this Courts review are
I. Whether IRC timely filed a claim for refund of property taxes
paid for the 1991 and 1992 tax years; and
II. Whether the Indiana Board erred by failing to adjust IRCs base
rate to reflect the absence of certain features presumed in the General Commercial
Industrial (GCI) light warehouse model. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
IRC owns and operates a commercial tennis club in Washington Township, Marion County,
Indiana. IRCs facility consists of 24 tennis courts (both indoor and outdoor),
a lobby, pro-shop, locker rooms, and various office and retail areas.
On November 12, 1996, IRC filed a Form 133 Petition for Correction of
Error with the Marion County Auditor. In its petition, IRC claimed that
its 1991 assessment was incorrect because it did not receive the kit building
adjustment pursuant to the provisions of State Board Instructional Bulletin 91-8.
On September 25, 1997, the Washington Township Assessors office sent a letter to
IRC approving IRCs Form 133. The Assessor attached to the letter six
Claims for Refund (Forms 17T) for IRC to sign and notarize. These
forms calculated new assessment values on IRCs property (based on an application of
State Board Instructional Bulletin 91-8) for tax years 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993,
and 1994. The Assessor also indicated that the Forms 17T were necessary
[i]n order to receive a refund for the overpayment of taxes resulting from
the assessment error. (
See Cert. Admin. R. at 15-22.)
Eighteen months later, however, on March 12, 1999, the Marion County Board of
Review (BOR) sent a notice to IRC that its Form 133 petition was
untimely filed and therefore denied. Consequently, on April 13, 1999, IRC appealed
the BORs determination to the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board).
On August 16, 2001, the State Board held a hearing on IRCs petition.
On April 17, 2002, the Indiana BoardSee footnote issued a final determination in
which it determined that IRC was entitled to the kit building adjustment for
1991. The Indiana Board also determined, however, that IRC was entitled to
receive property tax refunds for the 1993 and 1994 tax years only.
IRC subsequently filed an original tax appeal. This Court heard the parties
oral arguments on October 27, 2003. Additional facts will be supplied as
STANDARD OF REVIEW
This Court gives great deference to final determinations of the Indiana Board.
Wittenberg Lutheran Vill. Endowment Corp. v. Lake County Prop. Tax Assessment Bd. of
Appeals, 782 N.E.2d 483, 486 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003), review denied. Consequently,
the Court may reverse a final determination of the Indiana Board only if
(1) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;
contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;
(3) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory jurisdiction,
authority, or limitations;
(4) without observance of procedure required by law; or
(5) unsupported by substantial or reliable evidence.
Ind. Code § 33-3-5-14.8(e)(1)-(5) (West Supp. 2003). The party seeking to overturn
the Indiana Boards final determination bears the burden of proving its invalidity.
Osolo Township Assessor v. Elkhart Maple Lane Assocs., L.P., 789 N.E.2d 109, 111
(Ind. Tax Ct. 2003).
I. Refund of Taxes
IRC contends that when the Indiana Board determined that it was entitled
to the kit building adjustment starting in 1991, it should have allowed a
refund of property taxes paid not only for the 1993 and 1994 tax
years, but for the 1991 and 1992 tax years as well. The
Indiana Board argues that IRC is entitled to a refund of property taxes
paid for the 1993 and 1994 tax years only. The Indiana Board
The Indiana legislature has prescribed a procedure for obtaining a refund of property
taxes previously paid. Specifically, Indiana Code § 6-1.1-26-1 provides that
A person . . . may file a claim for the refund of
all or a portion of a tax installment which he has paid.
However, the claim must be:
(1) filed with the auditor of the county in which the taxes were
(2) filed within three (3) years after the taxes were first due;
(3) filed on the form prescribed by the state board of accounts and
approved by the state board of tax commissioners; and
(4) based upon one (1) of the following grounds:
(i) Taxes on the same property have been assessed and paid more than
once for the same year.
(ii) The taxes, as a matter of law, were illegal.
(iii) There was a mathematical error either in the computation of the assessment
upon which the taxes were based or in the computation of the taxes.
Ind. Code § 6-1.1-26-1 (West 2000) (amended 2002) (emphasis added). In turn,
Indiana Code § 6-1.1-22-9 provides that property taxes are paid in arrears:
thus, taxes on property assessed as of March 1st are paid in two
installments, May 10th and November 10th, of the following year. See Ind.
Code § 6-1.1-22-9(a) (West 2000). See also Ind. Code § 6-1.1-4-4 (West
2000) (amended 2003).
Under the plain meaning of these statutes, when a taxpayer seeks a refund
of property taxes paid for tax year 1991, it is required to file
the claim for refund within three years of the date when the taxes
were first due. In other words, the taxpayers claim for refund must
be filed by May 10th, 1995 (three years from May 10th, 1992).
Likewise, a claim for refund for taxes paid for the 1992 assessment year
must be filed by May 10th, 1996. In this case, IRC claims
for refund for the 1991 and 1992 tax years were not filed until
November 12, 1996.
See footnote Thus, IRC claims for refund for the 1991 and
1992 tax years were properly denied.
IRC argues that this result is incorrect. More specifically, IRC explains that
in the early 1990s, it appealed its 1989 assessment -- and that appeal
has not yet been resolved.See footnote Thus, because there is no valid assessment
for 1989, there is no valid assessment to carry forward for tax years
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994.See footnote Because there is no valid assessment
for 1991 and 1992 yet, there is likewise no tax liability for those
years. Because there is no tax liability, taxes are not yet due.
Because taxes are not yet due, IRCs claim for refund is not
yet due, and therefore its Forms 17T filed for the 1991 and 1992
tax years cannot possibly be untimely. To support its claim, IRC relies
on Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a):
If a petition for review to any board or an appeal to the
tax court regarding an assessment or increase in assessment is pending, the taxes
resulting from the assessment or increase in assessment
are . . . not
due until after the petition for review, or the appeal, is finally adjudicated
and the assessment or increase in assessment is finally determined.
Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a) (West 2000) (amended 2002) (emphasis added). Thus, IRC
argues that Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a) clearly tolls the due date of its
1991 and 1992 property tax payments, and any ancillary claims for refund for
those years, until after the 1989 appeal is finally resolved. (See Petr
Br. at 18.) The Court disagrees.
The foremost goal of statutory construction is to determine and give effect to
the true intent of the legislature. Caylor-Nickel Clinic, P.C. v. Indiana Dept
of Revenue, 569 N.E.2d 765, 768 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1991) (citations omitted), affd,
587 N.E.2d 1311 (Ind. 1992). To accomplish this task, the Court will
not only give statutory words and phrases their plain, ordinary, and usual meaning,
but it will also read a statute as a whole, and not sections
or parts of it piecemeal. Roehl Transp., Inc. v. Indiana Dept of
Revenue, 653 N.E.2d 539, 542 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995) (citations omitted).
Of particular importance, then, is the language contained in the second half of
Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a). It provides:
However, even though a petition for review or an appeal is pending, the
taxpayer shall pay taxes on the tangible property when the property tax installments
come due . . . The amount of taxes which the taxpayer is
required to pay, pending the final determination of the assessment or increase in
assessment, shall be based on . . . an amount based on the
immediately preceding years assessment of real property if an assessment, or increase in
assessment, of real property is involved.
Ind. Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a) and (a)(2). II. Base Rate Adjustments
Under the second half of this statute, IRC was still required to pay
its taxes for the 1991 and 1992 tax years when those taxes were
due (i.e., on May 10th and November 10th, 1992 and May 10th and
November 10th, 1993). The only difference, however, was that because IRCs 1989
appeal was still pending, the tax amounts were calculated based on IRCs 1988
assessment (the immediately preceding assessment not under appeal). These tax amounts represented
IRCs preliminary tax liabilities for 1991 and 1992 -- subject to a later
revision (either upward or downward) based on the final disposition of its 1989
appeal. Thus, under the plain meaning of the statute, IRCs property taxes
for the 1991 and 1992 were first due in 1992 and 1993.
As a result, any claims for refund for those years were required to
be filed, pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-1.1-26-1, by May 10th of 1995
and May 10th of 1996.
Furthermore, IRCs interpretation of Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a) effectively renders Indiana Code §
6-1.1-26-1 a nullity. Indeed, under IRCs interpretation of Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-10(a),
as long as a taxpayer appeals an assessment, the taxes stemming from that
assessment are not due until after the appeal is resolved. At that
point, however, there is nothing to refund; rather, the taxpayer merely pays its
taxes based on the appeals final disposition. This Court will not construe
a statute in a manner that will render another statute a nullity.
See Sangralea Boys Fund, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 686 N.E.2d
954, 958 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997), review denied.
For the foregoing reasons, this Court cannot say that the Indiana Board erred
in denying IRC property tax refunds for tax years 1991 and 1992.
Consequently, the Indiana Boards final determination on this issue is AFFIRMED.
IRC also claims when the Indiana Board determined that the kit building adjustment
applied to its improvement, it failed to make certain, required adjustments to the
improvements base rate. More specifically, IRC explains that, pursuant to the assessment
regulations in effect at the time, the GCI light warehouse model presumed the
presence of a concrete floor slab and a certain type of lighting.
IRC asserts that because its improvement lacks these features, the Indiana Board was
required to adjust the GCI light warehouse model base rate. (See Petr
Br. at 11-13.)
IRC raised these very same issues with respect to its 1989 assessment.
In a decision handed down concurrently with this decision, the Court holds that,
for the 1989 tax year, IRC failed to establish a prima facie case
that it was entitled to adjustments to account for the lack of a
concrete floor slab and a certain type of lighting. See Indianapolis Racquet
Club, Inc. v. Washington Township (Marion County) Assessor, Case No. 49T10-0206-TA-60, slip op.
at 7-14 (Ind. Tax Ct. Feb. 6, 2004). Given the fact that
the Indiana Board conducted a joint administrative hearing on both IRCs 1989 and
1991 appeals, and the argument and evidence IRC submitted to resolve the issues
for the 1991 appeal were the same for the 1989 appeal, the Court
now incorporates its reasoning in Indianapolis Racquet Club into this opinion. As
a result, this Court finds that IRCs evidence fails to establish a prima
facie case that it is entitled to adjustments for the 1991 assessment to
account for a lack of a concrete floor slab and a certain type
of lighting. The Indiana Boards final determination with respect to both of
these issues is hereby AFFIRMED.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the Indiana Boards final determination on
Starting March 1, 1991, the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State
Board) applied a 50% reduction to the base rates of certain, light pre-engineered
(or kit) buildings.
See King Indus. Corp. v. State Bd. of Tax
Commrs, 699 N.E.2d 338, 339 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). The base rate
reductions (kit building adjustments) were to account for the low-cost of, and economical
quality of material used in, these buildings. Id. State Board Instructional
Bulletin 91-8 provided guidance to assessors in determining which light, pre-engineered buildings qualified
for the reduction. See Componx, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs,
741 N.E.2d 442-47 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000).
The provisions of Instructional Bulletin 91-8 were later incorporated into Indianas 1995 assessment
regulations as the General Commercial Kit (GCK) Schedule. The GCK schedule, however,
provides minimum detail in describing the essential characteristics of a building to be
classified under it. See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-11-6 (Schedule
A.4) (1996); Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-10-6.1(a)(1)(D) (1996). Consequently, Instructional
Bulletin 91-8, although having been superseded, still offers guidance as to what buildings
may qualify to be assessed under the GCK schedule.
The administrative record indicates that the Marion County Board of Review
(BOR) advised IRC that if it desired to appeal the BORs decision, it
could do so by filing a Form 131 Petition for Review of Assessment
with the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board). Consequently, on April
13, 1999, IRC filed a Form 131 with the State Board. On
August 6, 1999, however, the State Board sent a Notice of Defect to
IRC indicating that, among other things, the original Form 133 -- not a
Form 131 was required. While IRC did not file its corrected
appeal with the State Board until November 3, 1999, IRCs appeal was deemed
filed as of April 13, 1999. (
See Cert. Admin. R. at 47.)
On December 31, 2001, the legislature abolished the State Board of
Tax Commissioners (State Board). 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 119(b)(2). Effective
January 1, 2002, the legislature created the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana
Board) as successor to the State Board.
Ind. Code §§ 6-1.5-1-3; 6-1.5-4-1;
2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Thus, when a final determination was
issued on IRCs appeal in April 2002, it was issued by the Indiana
In reality, the administrative record indicates that IRC did not file
its Forms 17T until, at the earliest, January 25, 2001. Indeed, IRC
did not sign the Forms 17T, first issued by the Washington Township Assessor
in September of 1997, until January 25, 2001. (
See Cert. Admin. R.
at 336-42; Respt Br. at 11.) Nevertheless, the Indiana Board gave IRC
the benefit of the doubt and considered them filed as of November 12,
1996 the day IRC filed its Form 133 Petition for Correction of
Error. (See Respt Br. at 11.)
Simultaneous with the issuance of this opinion today, the Court also
issues an opinion on IRCs 1989 assessment challenge.
See Indianapolis Racquet Club,
Inc. v. Washington Township (Marion County) Assessor, Cause No. 49T10-0206-TA-60, slip op. (Ind.
Tax Ct. Feb. 6, 2004).
In Indiana, property is not normally assessed every year. Rather,
as the law stands today, there is a general state-wide assessment of property
every four years.
See Ind. Code § 6-1.1-4-4(a) (West Supp. 2003). During
each general assessment, property is given an assessed value. This value remains
the assessed value of the property for the succeeding tax years until the
next general reassessment, unless the taxing authorities affirmatively act to reassess the property
for the interim years between assessments. See Williams Indus. v. State Bd.
of Tax Commrs, 648 N.E.2d 713, 715 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995); Joyce Sportswear
Co. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 684 N.E.2d 1189, 1191 (Ind. Tax
Ct. 1997), review denied; Ind. Code § 6-1.1-4-25 (West 2000) (amended 2002); Ind.
Code § 6-1.1-4-30 (West 2000).