ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER:    ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
DAVID L. PIPPEN    STEVE CARTER
ATTORNEY AT LAW     ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
Indianapolis, IN    Indianapolis, IN
    
    LINDA I. VILLEGAS
    DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
    Indianapolis, IN
______________________________________________________________________
     IN THE INDIANA TAX COURT

GOSHEN SASH & DOOR – SMOKERCRAFT,     )
                                                )
    Petitioner,                                 )
    v.                                          )

                  
            ) Cause No. 49T10-0005-TA-72
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL         )
GOVERNMENT FINANCE, See footnote         )
                )
    Respondent.            )    
______________________________________________________________________

ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF
THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS

NOT FOR PUBLICATION
April 23, 2004

FISHER, J.
Goshen Sash & Door – Smokercraft (GSD) appeals the State Board of Tax Commissioners’ (State Board) final determination valuing its real property for the 1995 tax year. The sole issue for the Court to decide is whether three of GSD’s improvements are entitled to additional obsolescence depreciation adjustments. See footnote
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

GSD timely filed a Petition for Review of Assessment (Form 131) with the State Board challenging the 1995 assessment of its New Paris, Indiana property. In its Form 131, GSD claimed that its improvements were entitled to additional obsolescence.See footnote After conducting an administrative hearing on March 1, 2000, the State Board denied GSD’s claim.
On May 15, 2000, GSD initiated an original tax appeal. The parties subsequently agreed to argue the case based on the administrative record presented to the State Board as well as on their briefs. Accordingly, the Court heard the parties’ oral arguments on April 25, 2001. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.
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. Hamstra Builders, Inc. v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 783 N.E.2d 387, 390 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003). Thus, 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. When appealing to this Court from a State Board final determination, the taxpayer bears the burden of showing that the final determination is invalid. Id.
Discussion

    For the 1995 reassessment, the Elkhart County Board of Review (BOR) awarded GSD’s improvements a 10% obsolescence depreciation adjustment. (See Stip. R. at 5.) GSD asserts, however, that three of its improvements are entitled to a 47% oblsolescence depreciation adjustment.
    “Obsolescence, which is a form of depreciation, is defined as a loss of value and classified as either functional or economic.” Freudenberg-NOK Gen. P’ship v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 715 N.E.2d 1026, 1029 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1999), review denied. See also Ind. Admin Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-10-7(e) (1996). Functional obsolescence is caused by factors internal to the property and is evidenced by conditions within the property itself. See 50 IAC 2.2-10-7(e). Economic obsolescence is caused by factors external to the property. Id.
To receive an adjustment for obsolescence, a taxpayer must 1) identify the causes of obsolescence present in its improvement and 2) quantify the amount of obsolescence to which it believes it is entitled. Clark v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 694 N.E.2d 1230, 1241 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Because the BOR obviously agreed that causes of obsolescence existed within GSD’s improvements See footnote , GSD bore the burden of presenting evidence at the administrative hearing quantifying the amount of obsolescence to be applied to its improvements.
To support its claim for additional obsolescence, GSD presented an “Assessment Review and Analysis” (Analysis) in which it stated that “[t]he subject property suffers, to some degree, from just about all of the causes of functional and economic obsolescence as described in the assessing regulations.” (Stip. R. at 47.) More specifically, GSD asserted that
[t]he subject property was originally constructed in 1947 with a tile and wood framed structure with several additions over the years. This out dated add-on type of construction has created an irregular and inefficient floor plan for today’s market place as well as a higher maintenance structure. These inefficiencies cause increased production and material handling costs as well as higher utility costs due to lack of insulation and thermal pane windows, and numerous roof lines and roof valleys.

The subject is mostly constructed of block with steel and wood framing materials. In today’s market this is considered to be a superadequacy as well as an obsolete design, as a modern building [] with better utility could be constructed with a less expensive light pre-engineered metal building.

(Stip. R. at 47.) GSD’s Analysis also contained: 1) a one-page general description of obsolescence; 2) a cursory mathematical calculation showing how it arrived at 47%; 3) the property record card for the subject property; 4) an article titled “Identifying, Measuring, and Treating Functional Obsolescence in an Appraisal”; and 5) the property record card from the State Board final determination for 1992. See footnote ( See Stip. R. at 44-91 (footnote added).)
    Obsolescence must be tied to an actual loss in property value; in the commercial context, this loss of value usually means a decrease in the property’s income generating ability. See Miller Structures, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 748 N.E.2d 943, 953-54 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Consequently, when a taxpayer quantifies the amount of obsolescence to which it believes it is entitled, it is required to convert that actual loss of value into a percentage reduction and apply it against the improvement’s overall value. See Clark, 694 N.E.2d at 1238. In this case, GSD presented no evidence whatsoever indicating an actual loss – i.e., how the various causes of obsolescence present in its property are causing it to lose money. See id. For example, GSD needed to support its allegation that its irregular and inefficient floor plan has caused increased production and material handling costs with calculations indicating the amount of those increased costs. Likewise, GSD needed to support its claim that it has incurred higher utility costs due to a lack of insulation, thermal pane windows, numerous roof-lines and roof valleys, with evidence indicating the amount of those higher utility costs. GSD’s failure to provide this evidence is fatal to its quantification of additional obsolescence. See footnote
    In the alternative, GSD argues that because obsolescence was initially applied, “whether [GSD] presented evidence demonstrating a need for additional obsolescence has nothing to do with whether the [10%] figure itself is supported by substantial evidence.” (Pet’r Post-Hr’g Br., Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at 7 (internal quotation omitted).) In other words, GSD claims that whether or not it supported its claim for additional obsolescence, the State Board was required, at the very least, to support the application of 10% obsolescence with substantial evidence. GSD is incorrect.
This Court has held that it would not consider taxpayer complaints concerning obsolescence in cases where the State Board holds administrative hearings after April 24, 1998, “unless the taxpayer has identified the causes of the alleged obsolescence and presented probative evidence that would support a quantification of obsolescence at the administrative level.” Clark, 694 N.E.2d at 1241 (April 24, 1998 being the date of Clark). Thus, in pre-Clark cases, if a taxpayer fails to quantify obsolescence, the State Board is nonetheless obligated to support its quantification of obsolescence with substantial evidence. See Canal-Realty Indy Castor v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 744 N.E.2d 597, 603 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). In post-Clark cases, however, if a taxpayer fails to quantify obsolescence, the State Board’s duty to support its quantification with substantial evidence is not triggered. See id. This being a post-Clark case, the State Board’s duty to support its quantification of the obsolescence present in GSD’s improvements was not triggered. See id.

CONCLUSION

Because GSD failed to link the factors causing obsolescence with an actual loss in its property’s value, it failed to make a prima facie case quantifying the amount of obsolescence to which it was entitled. Thus, the Court AFFIRMS the determination of the State Board.





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), see Indiana Code Annotated § 6-1.1-30-1.1 (West Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 66, and the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board). Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.5-1-3 (West Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Pursuant to Indiana Code Annotated § 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 Ann. § 6-1.5-5-8 (West Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Nevertheless, the law in effect prior to January 1, 2002 applies to these appeals. A.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 this opinion.

Footnote: GSD also raised various state and federal constitutional claims that this Court has declined to reach in previous cases. See, e.g., Barth, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 756 N.E.2d 1124, 1127 n.1 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Because GSD’s claims and supporting arguments are identical to those previously rejected by the Court, the Court will not address them.

Footnote: GSD also claimed “incorrect use-type allocation.” However, this issue was withdrawn during the administrative hearing. ( See Stip. R. at 42.)

Footnote: By awarding the initial 10% obsolescence adjustment, the Elkhart County Board of Review (BOR) agreed that obsolescence was present in GSD’s improvements. Therefore, quantification of obsolescence, not the identification of causes thereof, is the issue here. See Phelps Dodge v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 705 N.E.2d 1099, 1102 (Ind. Tax Ct.1999) (stating that the fact that parties agree on causes of obsolescence "obviates [taxpayer's] burden of offering probative evidence showing that the subject improvements experience obsolescence"), review denied.

Footnote: Apparently, GSD submitted the 1992 property records because two of the improvements received 20% obsolescence and the third received 30%. No explanation was given, however, as to how this determination relates to GSD’s 1995 assessment. At any rate, each tax year stands alone. Glass Wholesalers, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 568 N.E.2d 1116, 1124 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1991). Consequently, property is to be assessed separately and distinctly each year (i.e., a 1992 tax assessment will not be considered as probative evidence of the proper tax assessment for a later year). See id.

Footnote:      While this case centers on the second prong of Clark, it is important to recognize that both prongs require a connection to an actual loss in property value. See Clark v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 694 N.E.2d 1230, 1238 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Thus, the quantification of obsolescence is intrinsically tied to the actual loss of value suffered by the improvement from the alleged causes of obsolescence. See Miller Structures, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 748 N.E.2d 943, 954 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). See also Heart City Chrysler v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 714 N.E.2d 329, 334 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1999) (stating that attempts to quantify obsolescence must correlate to the causes of obsolescence). The stipulated record lacks any evidence or explanation on the subject of GSD’s actual loss of value. Consequently, it is impossible for GSD to convert that loss of value into an obsolescence quantification.