ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER:
ATTORNEYS FOR THE RESPONDENT:
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
LINDA I. VILLEGAS
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
LESLIE STEAD, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-0002-TA-15
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION
OF THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
April 4, 2003
Leslie Stead (Stead) appeals the final determination of the State Board of Tax
Commissioners (State Board) valuing his commercial improvement for the March 1, 1995 assessment.
The sole issue is whether the State Board erred when it used
the gasoline service station schedule to assess Steads improvement.
See footnote For the reasons
stated below, the Court AFFIRMS the State Boards final determination.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Stead owns a motor vehicle repair shop commercial improvement in Center Township, Marion
County, Indiana. For the 1995 assessment, Steads improvement was assessed at $27,030
under the General Commercial Mercantile (GCM) auto service schedule. Stead appealed his
assessment to the Marion County Board of Review (BOR). The BOR reassessed
Steads improvement using the gasoline service station schedule, which lowered Steads assessment to
$17,870. Still unsatisfied, Stead appealed the BORs determination to the State Board.
At the State Board hearing, Stead argued that his improvement should have
been assessed using the General Commercial Industrial (GCI) commercial garage schedule. On
December 27, 1999, the State Board issued a final determination denying Stead relief.
On February 9, 2000, Stead initiated an original tax appeal. The Court
held a trial on May 22, 2000. Additional facts will be supplied
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
This Court gives great deference to the final determinations of the State Board
when it acts within the scope of its authority. Thousand Trails, Inc.
v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 757 N.E.2d 1072, 1075 (Ind. Tax Ct.
2001). This Court will reverse a final determination of the State Board
only when its findings are unsupported by substantial evidence, arbitrary, capricious, constitute an
abuse of discretion, or exceed statutory authority. Id.
Furthermore, a taxpayer who appeals to this Court from a State Board final
determination bears the burden of showing that the final determination was invalid.
Id. The taxpayer must present a prima facie case by submitting probative evidence,
i.e., evidence sufficient to establish a given fact that, if not contradicted, will
remain sufficient. Id. Once the taxpayer presents a prima facie case,
the burden shifts to the State Board to rebut the taxpayers evidence and
support its findings with substantial evidence. Id.
The sole issue is whether the State Board erred in using the gasoline
service station schedule
See footnote to assess Steads improvement. Stead argues that his improvement
should have been assessed using the GCI commercial garage schedule.See footnote The State Board,
on the other hand, argues that Stead did not submit probative evidence to
support his claim. The State Board is correct.
Under Indianas property tax assessment system, assessors use cost schedules to determine the
base reproduction cost of a particular improvement.
See Whitley Prod., Inc. v. State
Bd. of Tax Commrs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1116 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998) review
denied. A taxpayer is entitled to have his property assessed using the correct
cost schedule. Indianapolis Racquet Club, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs,
722 N.E.2d 926, 937 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000), remanded on other grounds by
743 N.E.2d 247 (Ind. 2001). To demonstrate that the State Board erred in
using a particular cost schedule, a taxpayer must submit probative evidence to establish
that another schedule was more appropriate. See id. at 939.
At the State Board hearing, Stead submitted the property record card of a
service station in a neighboring township that had been assessed using the GCI
commercial garage schedule.
See footnote (Petr Ex. E.) Stead argues that his improvement
and the service station are comparable because neither is a commercial franchise; thus,
Stead contends that his improvement should have been assessed pursuant to the same
schedule used to assess the service station. (Original Tax Appeal Notice of
Claim at 5.) However, Steads reasoning misses the mark.
Whether properties are comparable depends on whether the properties
possess sufficiently similar features.
See Blackbird Farms Apartments, LP v. Dept of Local Govt Fin., 765
N.E.2d 711, 714 (Ind. Tax 2002) (citing Beyer v. State, 280 N.E.2d 604,
607 (Ind. 1972)). Here, Stead merely argues that the service station and
his improvement are comparable because neither is a commercial franchise. However, in
Indiana improvements are assessed according to their physical characteristics, not their use or
type of ownership.
See CGC Enterprises v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs,
714 N.E.2d 801, 804 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1999). Consequently, Stead has not
shown that his improvement and the service station are comparable, nor has he
submitted any evidence indicating that State Board erred in using the gasoline service
Stead has not shown that his improvement and the service station are comparable,
nor has he submitted probative evidence showing that the State Board erred in
using the gasoline service station schedule. Therefore, Stead has not made a
prima facie case that the State Board erred in assessing his improvement.
Accordingly, the Court AFFIRMS the State Boards final determination.
Footnote: The State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) was originally the Respondent
in this appeal. However, the Legislature abolished the State Board as of December
31, 2001. 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 119(b)(2). Effective January 1,
2002, the Legislature created the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) and the
Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board).
Ind. Code §§ 6-1.1-30-1.1; 6-1.5-1-3
(West Supp. 2001); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 §§ 66, 95. Pursuant to
Indiana Code § 6-1.5-5-8, the DLGF is substituted for the State Board in
appeals from final determinations of the State Board that were issued before January
1, 2002. Ind. Code § 6-1.5-5-8 (West Supp. 2001) (eff. 2002); 2001
Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Nevertheless, the law in effect prior to
January 1, 2002 applies to these appeals. I.C. § 6-1.5-5-8. See
also 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 117. Although the DLGF has been
substituted as the Respondent, this Court will still reference the State Board throughout
Stead also raises the issues of land valuation and obsolescence. However,
nothing in the record indicates that these issues were first raised at his
hearing before the State Board. The Court's scope of review precludes the
Court from considering issues . . . not presented to the State Board.
Fleet Supply, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 740 N.E.2d 598,
599 n.1 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2000). Stead also argues that his assessment
violates Article 10 section 1 of the Indiana Constitution. Given the holding
in this case, however, the Court need not reach this issue.
Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-13-8.
Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, rr. 2.2-11-2(1); 2.2-11-5.1(a)(6)(B).
At trial, Stead attempted to introduce evidence that he never presented to
the State Board during his hearing. The Court's scope of review precludes
the Court from considering . . . evidence not presented to the State
Fleet Supply, 740 N.E.2d at 599 n.1.
Furthermore, just because a feature is absent from two properties does not
necessarily mean that the remaining features are sufficiently similar so as to make
the properties comparable.
Footnote: Stead argued in the alternative that his improvement should have been assessed
using the small private garage schedule. It appears that Stead really means
that his improvement should have been assessed using the GCM utility storage schedule,
which is used to assess [s]mall private garages[.]
See Ind. Admin. Code
tit. 50, r. 2.2-11-5.1(a)(6)(E). In any event, Stead offered no evidence to
support this argument.