Indianapolis, Indiana
    Indianapolis, Indiana


    IN THE INDIANA TAX COURT _____________________________________________________________________

ALLAN G. CARLSON,                                                             )
    Petitioner,                                                                    )
    v.                                                                             )   Cause No. 49T10-9806-SC-00053
STATE BOARD OF TAX                                                                 )
COMMISSIONERS,                                                                     )
    Respondent.                                                                    )    

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 Court’s review is whether the State Board’s Final Determination is erroneous because the Land Order used to assess Carlson’s 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.

Carlson owns residential land and improvements in Hamilton County, Indiana. Carlson’s property, consisting roughly of one acre, is located at 10909 Crooked Stick Lane in Spring Run Estates (SRE). See footnote 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. See footnote
    The SRE property value range yielded a value above the properties located in CSW and below those in the CSE subdivision. See footnote Consistent with the Land Order, Carlson’s property was assessed at $323 per front foot. The property was then granted a negative influence factor of fifteen percent. See footnote This produced a final assessment of $57,660 for Carlson’s 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 assessor’s 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 county’s assessment. The State Board found that the value of Carlson’s 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.
Standard of Review

    The State Board is charged with the responsibility of interpreting Indiana’s property tax laws and ensuring that property assessments are made in the manner prescribed by law. See Poracky v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 Comm’rs, 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 Board’s statutory authority, or is arbitrary or capricious. See Precedent v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 659 N.E.2d 701, 703-04 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995).

Carlson challenges the validity of the State Board’s Final Determination. See footnote He contends 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 property’s 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 Carlson’s 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 Board’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence, exceeds the State Board’s 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 Comm’rs, 696 N.E.2d 494, 495 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998); see also Vonnegut v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 Comm’rs, 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 Black’s 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 Comm’rs, 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 1989).
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. See footnote 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 Carlson’s 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 “Doesn’t 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 footnote See Phelps Dodge v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 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 taxpayer’s 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 Board’s 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 Board’s Final Determination is AFFIRMED.

Footnote: Carlson does not contest the assessed value of the improvements on his land.

Footnote: “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 n.6, infra.

Footnote: 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.)

Footnote: Carlson does not, however, contest the application of the Land Order to his property.

Footnote: Presumably, the source of Carlson’s 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.

Footnote: Carlson’s 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 Carlson’s 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.