ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
DAVID L. PIPPEN JEFFREY A. MODISETT
DICKINSON & ABEL ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
JANET L. PARSANKO
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
DANA CORPORATION, ) ) Petitioner, ) ) v. ) Cause No. 49T10-9701-TA-00060 ) STATE BOARD OF ) TAX COMMISSIONERS, ) ) Respondent. ) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
ON APPEAL FROM THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
Dana Corporation (Dana) appeals the final determination of the State Board of Tax Commissione rs (State Board) assessing its property as of the March 1, 1991 and March 1, 1992 assessment dates. Dana challenged the final determinations via the 130/131 Petition for Review of Assessment process alleging that: 1) the tax, as applied,
is unconstitutional, 2) the land classification is incorrect, 3) the grade is incorrect, 4) the
obsolescence factor is incorrect, and 5) an influence factor should be applied.
Br. at Ex. A)
. The State Board addressed the five issues at a hearing held November
13, 1995. In its final assessment determination issued on November 22, 1996, the
State Board made various changes in the assessment of Dana's property. These
a change in the land classification and the grade. No changes where allowed
on the issues of an influence factor, and the constitutional challenge was not
addressed. Unsatisfied with this result,
Dana filed an original tax appeal with this Court
on January 7, 1997.
On February 3, 1998, Dana moved for summary judgment. Dana contends that any property tax assessment made pursuant to the State Board's current regulations are arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion as a matter of law. A hearing on the Motion was held on April 8, 1998. Having heard the arguments of counsel and reviewing their briefs, the Court now DENIES Dana's motion. See footnote 1
This Court has recognized that the State Board must be given a great deal of discretion
in carrying out its responsibilities. Consequently, the party challenging an assessment
bears the burden of proving that the assessment is unsupported by substantial
evidence, constitutes an abuse of discretion, exceeds the State Board's statutory
authority, or is arbitrary or capricious. Vonnegut v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 672
N.E.2d 87, 89 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1996), review denied.
non-moving party, and any doubt as to the existence of a factual issue must be
resolved against the moving party. Cowe v. Forum Group, Inc. 575 N.E.2d 630, 633
(Ind. 1991). In addition, all facts properly designated by the party opposing the motion
must be accepted as tru
e. Shackleford v. Rice, 659 N.E.2d 1142, 1144 (Ind. Ct. App.
1996), trans. denied
. Where there is no genuine issue of material fact, the Court's task
is to apply the law to those facts. Sangralea Boys Fund v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs,
686 N.E.2d 954, 956 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997), review denied.
that the State Board's regulations provide no ascertainable standards. In support of
this, Dana designates as evidence Title 6 of the Indiana Code and Title 50 of the
Indiana Administrative Code. (Pet'r Br. at 2).
Not surprisingly, the Court agrees with Dana's contentions. Unfortunately for Dana's motion, the Court did so in Town of St. John. Part of the holding in that case dealt with the lack of ascertainable standards present in the regulations. See Town of St. John, 690 N.E.2d at 383-88. The Court found that the State Board's regulations contain much that is indeed arbitrary and capricious. This being the case, however, does not change the fact that the Court will not allow Dana to prevail with this argument.
The State Board's response to Dana's argument is to cite cases that have recognized the potential problems of allowing judgments to be applied retroactively.See footnote 2 It also rehashes some of this Court's reasoning in the Town of St. John judgment entry. The Court finds this logic no less convincing than it did when it originally entered its judgment in the Town of St. John case. See also S. R. Shapiro, Annotation, Prospective or Retroactive Operation of Overruling Decision, 10 A.L.R.3d 1371 (1966). The Court will not take this as an opportunity reconsider its order in that case.
Therefore, on the issue of a lack of ascertainable standards in the current regulations,
summary judgment is DENIED.
In passing on this issue, it should be noted what the Town of St. John holding does not mean. The Court's holding simply prevents a taxpayer from being heard in this Court when he alleges that the current system is unconstitutional on its face. The Court's holding does not insulate assessments from constitutional challenges_it merely prevents a taxpayer from strolling into Court, stating that the current system is unconstitutional, and obtaining a reversal of the taxpayer's property tax assessment. In other words, this Court will not entertain facial challenges to a property tax assessment; it will, however, hear as applied challenges just as it always has done. See, e.g., Indianapolis Historic Partners v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 49T10-9506-TA-00051 (Ind. Tax Ct. Apr. 23, 1998); Zakutansky, 691 N.E.2d at 1368-69. See also Town of St. John, 690 N.E.2d at 383 n.30. But i n order for such a challenge to succeed, a taxpayer will have to present specific evidence an assessment is unconstitutional as applied to him. This is precisely the type of challenge that Dana has not attempted in this motion for summary judgment.
State v. American Motorists Ins. Co., 463 N.E.2d 1142, 1145-46 (Ind. Ct. App. 1984)).
The only facts designated on these issues were Dana's original Petition to this Court,
which contained copies of the State Board's final determination (Pet'r Br. at Ex. A), and
the State Board's answers and affirmative defense (Pet'r Br. at Ex. B).
The forum of summary judgment is appropriate neither to resolve factual disputes nor to resolve conflicting inferences arising from undisputed facts. C & C Oil Co. v. Indiana Dep't of State Revenue, 570 N.E.2d 1376, 1378 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1991). Dana's motion as it relates to the land classification, grade, obsolescence, and the proper influence factor to be applied is made up of nothing more than allegations. Allegations unsupported by evidence remain mere allegations. Herb v. State Bd. Of Tax Comm'rs, 656 N.E.2d 890, 893 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995).
The Court cannot determine from the record before it whether the State Board erred in its final determinations pertaining to these specific issues. This is because the Court has not had the opportunity to recreate and properly review the administrative record via a trial in this case. Since Dana has the burden of proof, it must present evidence supporting its allegations. Dana has presented no such evidence; therefore, Dana has not established that it is entitled to the requested relief. Because issues of fact exist , the Court DENIES Dana's motion summary judgment.
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