PETITIONER APPEARING PRO SE: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
ALLAN G. CARLSON KAREN M. FREEMAN-WILSON
Carmel, Indiana ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
TED J. HOLADAY
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
ALLAN G. CARLSON, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-9806-SC-00053
STATE BOARD OF TAX )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE
STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
April 14, 2000
The petitioner Allan G. Carlson (Carlson) appeals the Final Determination of the State
Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) denying his request to lower the assessed
value of his land for the 1995 assessment year. In this original tax
appeal, the sole issue Carlson presents for this Courts review is whether the
State Boards Final Determination is erroneous because the Land Order used to assess
Carlsons property was based in whole or in part on erroneous or incomplete
information. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the Final
Determination of the State Board.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Carlson owns residential land and improvements in Hamilton County, Indiana. Carlsons property,
consisting roughly of one acre, is located at 10909 Crooked Stick Lane in
Spring Run Estates (SRE).
SRE is a subdivision located adjacent to the
prestigious Crooked Stick Golf Course. Crooked Stick Estates (CSE) and Crooked Stick
West (CSW) are subdivisions also adjacent to the golf course. In 1995,
pursuant to the Hamilton County Land Valuation Order (Land Order), SRE properties were
valued in the range of $320 to $335 per front foot.
The SRE property value range yielded a value above the properties located in
CSW and below those in the CSE subdivision.
Consistent with the Land
Order, Carlsons property was assessed at $323 per front foot. The property
was then granted a negative influence factor of fifteen percent.
a final assessment of $57,660 for Carlsons land.
Believing this value to be too high, Carlson filed a Form 130 petition
for review of assessment with the Hamilton County Board of Review (BOR).
Following a hearing on the petition, the BOR issued its determination on January
7, 1997, agreeing with the assessors valuation. Thereafter, on January 13, 1997,
Carlson filed a Form 131 petition for review of assessment with the State
Board. On March 11, 1998 the State Board held a hearing and
on May 7, 1998 issued its Final Determination affirming the countys assessment.
The State Board found that the value of Carlsons land appropriately fell within
the range directed by the Land Order. Carlson filed an original tax
appeal with this Court and a trial on the matter was conducted on
October 27, 1998. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
The State Board is charged with the responsibility of interpreting Indianas property tax
laws and ensuring that property assessments are made in the manner prescribed by
law. See Poracky v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 635 N.E.2d 235,
236 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1994). This Court has recognized that the State
Board has a great deal of discretion in carrying out these responsibilities.
Id. (quoting Auburn Foundry, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 628 N.E.2d
1260, 1263 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1994)). Therefore, a party seeking reversal of
a Final Determination of the State Board bears the burden of establishing that
the Final Determination is unsupported by substantial evidence, constitutes an abuse of discretion,
exceeds the State Boards statutory authority, or is arbitrary or capricious. See Precedent
v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 659 N.E.2d 701, 703-04 (Ind. Tax Ct.
Carlson challenges the validity of the State Boards Final Determination.
that the Land Value Map, the instrument containing the data used to compile
the Land Order, was either incomplete, inaccurate or both. Therefore, Carlson argues,
even though his unimproved propertys assessed value falls within the range dictated by
the Land Order, the value cannot be correct. That is, due to
erroneous or incomplete input (i.e. the Land Value Map), it must follow that
the resulting output (i.e. the Land Order) must likewise be in error.
In affirming the assessment of Carlsons property, the State Board observed in its
Final Determination that the assessed value was consistent with the Land Order.
The State Board, therefore, implicitly acknowledged the validity of both the Land Value
Map and the Land Order.
A Land Value Map is compiled using sales data and land value estimations
collected from licensed real estate brokers. See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50,
r. 2.2-4-4(b) (1996). It is a resource used by the County Land
Valuation Commission for determining general geographic areas, subdivisions, or neighborhoods based on characteristics
that distinguish a particular geographic area, subdivision, or neighborhood from the surrounding areas.
Id. at r. 2.2-4-4(c). The Land Value Map assists in generating
the values contained in the Land Order and together these instruments serve as
the primary devices of the assessor for determining the value of a particular
parcel of land. See Ind. Code Ann. 6-1.1-4-13.6(a) (West Supp. 1999).
This Court reverses a Final Determination of the State Board only where the
taxpayer demonstrates that the State Boards decision is not supported by substantial evidence,
exceeds the State Boards legal authority, constitutes an abuse of discretion, or is
arbitrary and capricious; succinctly put, the burden of production of evidence falls squarely
and exclusively on the shoulders of the taxpayer. See Zakutansky v. State Bd.
of Tax Commrs, 696 N.E.2d 494, 495 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998); see also
Vonnegut v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 672 N.E.2d 87, 89 (Ind. Tax
Ct. 1996). Moreover, Allegations, unsupported by factual evidence, remain mere
allegations. Herb v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 656 N.E.2d 890, 893
(Ind. Tax Ct. 1995).
Probative evidence may be characterized as having the effect of furnishing, establishing or
contributing toward proving a point. See Blacks Law Dictionary 579 (7th ed.
1999). Probative evidence is neither conclusory statements nor allusions without factual
support. See Whitley Prods. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 704 N.E.2d
1113 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998), review denied. A well-developed factual record facilitates
judicial review; therefore, it is expected that a taxpayer petitioning this Court for
reversal of a Final Determination will have presented adequate probative evidence to the
State Board relating to the issues raised. See id at 1120.
Carlson alleges that the inaccuracy of the Land Value Map (and thereby the
Land Order) is demonstrated by comparing the assessed value of his property against
both the lower-valued CSW properties and the higher-valued CSE properties. Carlson suggests
that his property is more similar to the lower-valued CSW properties than to
the CSE properties but offers no evidence as to how or why.
Carlson does point out that unlike his property, the CSW properties have a
sewer system. (Trial Tr. at 10.) However, while this additional infrastructure is
a consideration in the assessment of property, it is merely one element involved
in the classification of land. See Ind. Code Ann. 6-1.1-31-6 (West
Alternatively, Carlson argues that the higher-valued CSE properties are typically situated on
parcels having more than one acre. He contends that, if a pure
per acre comparison is applied, his property is assessed at a value higher
than the similar but larger properties of CSE. He further asserts that
any mechanism allowing for this would be unfair.
Carlson makes conclusory inferences
that the subdivisions in question are comparable and therefore, the properties contained therein
should be valued relative to their comparability. This Court acknowledges that Carlsons
argument is not without some measure of force. Nevertheless, he offers nothing
in terms of actual probative evidence to support his position.
Carlson proposes that this Court reverse the Final Determination of the State Board
based on his allegation that the Land Value Map Doesnt make sense.
(Trial Tr. at 19.) At trial, Carlson offered into evidence the Land
Order, property record cards for his and other properties and the County Land
Valuation Commission summary reports. All of these exhibits tended to show that
his property did in fact fall between the CSW properties and the CSE
properties. However, Carlson offered no evidence explaining how or why the data
contained in the Land Value Map was erroneous.
See Phelps Dodge v.
State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 705 N.E.2d 1099, 1104 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1999)
(holding the taxpayer must offer probative evidence regarding the purported error raised),
review denied. Moreover, this Court has countenanced that it is the taxpayers
duty to first offer probative evidence before a requirement will vest in the
State Board to show its Final Determination is supported by substantial evidence.
See id. Carlson failed to invoke this requirement upon the State Board.
Furthermore, because Carlson failed to adequately demonstrate that the underlying data constituting
the Land Value Map was erroneous, the State Boards affirmation of the application
of the corresponding Land Order values was neither arbitrary nor capricious.
Carlson did not carry his burden of producing probative evidence sufficient for this
Court to reverse the State Board. Therefore, the State Boards Final Determination
Carlson does not contest the assessed value of the improvements on
A front foot is a strip of land one foot wide that
fronts on a desirable feature such as a road or a lake and
extends for the entire depth of the parcel. Ind. Admin. Code tit.
50, r. 2.2-4-1(8) (1996).
The Land Order reveals that CSW and CSE properties were each
assigned a specific value in the Land Order rather than being assigned a
range of values. CSW properties were valued at $165 per front foot and
CSE properties at $70,000 an acre, presumably with an excess acreage provision. See
A negative influence factor is a multiplier that is applied to the
value of land to account for characteristics of a particular parcel of land
that are peculiar to that parcel; this factor may be positive or negative
and is expressed as a percentage. Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r.
2.2-4-1(12) (1996). At trial, Carlson was unable to identify the reason for
the application of the negative influence factor. (Trial Tr. at 30.)
Carlson does not, however, contest the application of the Land Order to
Presumably, the source of Carlsons distress is an excess acreage provision.
Typically this is a provision contained in a Land Order that has one
value for the initial assessed acre(s) and a fractional value for each additional
acre thereafter. (Trial Tr. at 31.) However, Carlson neither identifies the
source nor does he offer any legal support to refute its application.
Carlsons reliance on the Land Value Map and the comparative subdivisions is
misplaced. Specific attention to Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-4-4 (Land
value maps) in conjunction with Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-4-5 (Methods
of evaluating sales information) would have been appropriate. A thorough analysis of
the underlying alleged erroneous data using witnesses, statements, depositions, etc. regarding this data,
while not necessarily dispositive of the issue, clearly would have benefited Carlsons position.
For example, if the complaint is that there is insufficient data to support
the Land Value Map and the Land Order, evidence should be produced showing
how the Land Value Map and the Land Order were in fact prepared
and subsequently enacted.