Indianapolis, IN                     Indianapolis, IN

                             JOEL SCHIFF
                             DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
                             Indianapolis, IN

QUALITY STORES,                                  )
    Petitioner,                                       )
            v.                                        )
                                                      )  Cause No. 49T10-9701-TA-96
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL                                   )
GOVERNMENT FIANCE, See footnote                 )
    Respondent.                    )


May 28, 2004

    Quality Stores (Quality) appeals the three final determinations of the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) valuing its real property for the 1989, 1990, and 1991 assessment years (years at issue). The issue for the Court to decide is whether the State Board erred in refusing to adjust the base rate assigned to Quality’s improvement. See footnote

Quality owns land and a light, pre-engineered building in Lafayette, Indiana. For the years at issue, the Tippecanoe County assessing officials assessed Quality’s improvement using the General Commercial Mercantile (GCM) general retail model.
Quality filed three Petitions for Correction of Error (Forms 133) with the Tippecanoe County Auditor challenging those assessments. The Forms 133 stated “[d]epreciation should have been based off of a 30 yr. life[,] [i]ncorrect base rate used.” See footnote (Resp’t Trial Ex. 1 at A-1 to A-3.) The Auditor denied Quality’s Forms 133; Quality appealed this denial to the State Board. The State Board inspected Quality’s improvements and, on November 22, 1996, issued three final determinations denying Quality’s requested adjustments.
On January 6, 1997, Quality initiated an original tax appeal. On March 16, 1998, the Court held a trial. The Court heard the parties’ oral arguments on October 6, 1998. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

This Court accords great deference to the State Board when it acts within the scope of its authority. Wetzel Enters., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 694 N.E.2d 1259, 1261 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Thus, this Court will reverse a final determination of the State Board only when its findings are unsupported by substantial evidence, arbitrary and 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. Hamstra Builders, Inc. v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 783 N.E.2d 387, 390 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003). Where the taxpayer has failed to provide the State Board with probative evidence supporting its position, the State Board’s duty to support its final determination with substantial evidence is not triggered. See Whitley Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1119 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998), review denied.

The GCM general retail model provides the following for interior finish: Walls – “[m]asonry [p]aint [two] coats for a 12’ ceiling height[;]” Floors – “85% of floor area is 90% vinyl asbestos tile and 10% carpeting, 15% is unfinished[;]” Ceilings – “85% of floor area is acoustical tile constructed of mineral fiber and supported throughout by [a] suspension system[;]” and Partitions – “[f]rame interior partitions of average cost construction typical of finished open construction found in retail areas[.]” Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.1-4-7 (1992).
Quality claims it is entitled to several base rate adjustments to account for its improvement’s deviation from the GCM general retail model used to assess it. See footnote Additionally, Quality claims it is entitled to a kit-building adjustment. See footnote (See Trial Tr. at 5.)
The State Board denied Quality’s claims on the basis that subjective judgment would be required to make the requested adjustments and therefore, such relief was not appropriate for a Form 133. (See Resp’t Trial Ex. 1 at 17.) See also Bock Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 683 N.E.2d 1368, 1370 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997) (stating that “[t]he only errors subject to correction by Form 133 are those which can be corrected without resort to subjective judgment”).
    To support its claims, Quality submitted photographs of its improvement’s interior and exterior and the testimony of its property tax consultant, Mr. M. Drew Miller (Miller). (Pet’r Trial Exs. D-1 to D-11.) Miller testified that Quality’s improvement does not have a concrete block exterior wall, suspended ceiling tiles, or carpeting. (See Trial Tr. at 52.) Miller further explained that the pictures “clearly show that it [is] exposed steel framing and insulation in the ceiling finish. The wall finish . . . [is] exposed[ with some] pegboard.” (Trial Tr. at 56.)
Quality’s testimonial and pictorial evidence fails to objectively establish what type of interior finish its improvement does have. Indeed, the evidence demonstrates that the interior of Quality’s improvement comprises a range of qualities and designs.
Furthermore, Quality failed to provide any objective base rates to account for the differing features that it claimed existed in its improvement. See Barth, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 756 N.E.2d 1124, 1129 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001) (stating that taxpayers must ascertain the amount of each adjustment requested). Consequently, to determine the correct amount to deduct from Quality’s base rate to compensate for the alleged deviations from the model, the State Board would have to determine the type of interior finish present in Quality’s improvement, how those interior features differ from those presumed in the model, and then what amount of adjustment is appropriate under the regulations. Because such determinations may require subjective judgment, the remedy Quality seeks is not appropriate for a Form 133. See Hatcher v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 601 N.E.2d 19, 22 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1992). Thus, the Court cannot say the State Board erred in denying Quality’s requested relief in this regard.
With respect to the kit-building adjustment request, Miller testified that buildings similar to Quality’s had qualified for the adjustment. (See Trial Tr. at 54.) Quality’s evidence, however, fails to establish that its improvement has the construction characteristics that qualify light, pre-engineered buildings for the 50% base rate adjustment. See Hamstra Builders, Inc., 783 N.E.2d at 391 (describing construction characteristics used to identify kit buildings). Therefore, the State Board did not err in denying this claim as well.

    For the reasons stated above, the Court AFFIRMS the State Board’s three final determinations with respect to Quality’s base rate adjustment claims. Because the State Board conceded at trial that Quality was entitled to a physical depreciation adjustment (see footnote three, supra.), the Court REVERSES the State Board’s final determinations on that issue and REMANDS it to the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) See footnote to instruct the local assessing officials to apply the thirty-year depreciation schedule for the years at issue to Quality’s improvement.

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. 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 119(b)(2). Effective January 1, 2002, the legislature created the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), see Indiana Code § 6-1.1-30-1.1 (West Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 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); 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 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 Ann. § 6-1.5-5-8 (West Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 198 Ind. Acts 2001, § 95. Nevertheless, the law in effect prior to January 1, 2002 applies to those appeals. Id. See also 198 Ind. Acts 2001 § 117. Although the DLGF has been substituted as the Respondent, this Court will still reference the State Board throughout this opinion.

Footnote: At trial and in its post-trial brief, Quality also alleged that the State Board erred in determining its land classification for the years at issue. “[T]he general rule is that the Court is bound by the issues and evidence raised at the administrative level.” Miller Structures, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 748 N.E.2d 943, 948 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Accordingly, because the issue was not raised at the administrative level, the issue is waived and may not now be considered by the Court. See id.

Footnote: The depreciation issue was resolved at trial when the State Board conceded that the thirty-year depreciation schedule should have been used in assessing Quality’s improvement. (See Trial Tr. at 8.)

Footnote: Specifically, Quality asserts that its improvement lacks a ceiling, concrete block, partitioning, and interior finish. (See Trial Tr. at 5.) Quality failed to list these specific adjustments on its Forms 133. Thus, the State Board had no way of discerning what errors Quality was specifically alleging.
Quality claims, however, that the State Board should have looked at the final determinations on its 1992 appeal to ascertain its request for relief. The Court reminds Quality that not only does each assessment year stand alone, but also it is not the State Board’s duty to make the taxpayer’s case for it. See Barth, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 699 N.E.2d 800, 805 n.14 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998) (stating that “each tax year stands on its own”); see also Whitley Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1118 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998) (stating that “the State Board need not search the property to find errors”), review denied.

Footnote: For the years at issue, certain light pre-engineered buildings assessed under the GCM schedule received a 50% base rate reduction (kit building adjustment) to account for the low-cost materials used in their construction. See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.1-4-5 (Schedule A.1) (1992).

Footnote: All cases that would have been remanded to the State Board are now remanded to the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board). Ind. Code Ann.§ 6-1.1-15-8 (West Supp. 2003). Final determinations made by the Indiana Board are subject to review by this Court pursuant to Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15. Ind. Code Ann. §§ 6-1.5-5-7, 33-3-5-2 (West Supp. 2003).