ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER:
TIMOTHY J. VRANA
SHARPNACK BIGLEY LLP
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENTS:
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
JAMES L. & BARBARA A. PUCKETT, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-9910-TA-206
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL )
ON APPEAL FROM TWO FINAL DETERMINATIONS
OF THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
July 22, 2003
James L. and Barbara A. Puckett appeal the final determinations of the State
Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) valuing their real property for the 1997
assessment year. The issue for the Court to decide is whether the
State Board erred when it refused to value the Pucketts improvements using the
General Commercial Kit (GCK) pricing schedule. For the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS
the State Boards final determinations.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Pucketts own commercial improvements in Columbus Township, Bartholomew County, Indiana, which they
use as mini-warehouses. (Stip. R. at 68.) The Pucketts appealed the
valuation of these improvements for the 1997 assessment year to the Bartholomew County
Board of Review (BOR), which upheld their assessment. The Pucketts subsequently appealed
the BORs final determination to the State Board, arguing that because their improvements
are pole buildings, they should have been valued using the GCK pricing schedule.
On September 15, 1999, the State Board issued two final determinations, upholding
the Pucketts assessment.
See footnote (Stip. R. at 2, 87.)
On October 20, 1999, the Pucketts initiated an original tax appeal. The
Court held a trial on September 27, 2000, at which the parties stipulated
to the record. On March 9, 2001, the parties presented oral arguments.
Additional facts will be supplied as needed.
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. Thousand Trails, Inc.
v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 757 N.E.2d 1072, 1075 (Ind. Tax Ct.
2001). 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.
Furthermore, a taxpayer who appeals to this Court from a State Board final
determination bears the burden of showing that the final determination was invalid.
Id. The taxpayer must present a prima facie case by submitting probative evidence,
i.e., evidence sufficient to establish a given fact that, if not contradicted, will
remain sufficient. Id. Once the taxpayer presents a prima facie case,
the burden shifts to the State Board to rebut the taxpayers evidence and
support its findings with substantial evidence. Id.
The sole issue in this case is whether the State Board erred when
it refused to value the Pucketts improvements using the GCK pricing schedule.
The GCK pricing schedule is utilized for valuing preengineered and predesigned pole buildings
which are used for commercial and industrial purposes.
Ind. Admin. Code tit.
50, r. 2.2-10-6.1(a)(1)(D) (1996). As a threshold matter, taxpayers like the Pucketts
who seek the application of the GCK pricing schedule must submit probative evidence
showing that the subject improvement is a preengineered and predesigned pole building.
See Thousand Trails, 757 N.E.2d at 1075.
The Pucketts did not submit any evidence showing that their improvements were preengineered
and predesigned pole buildings. Rather, they merely argue that because their improvements
are constructed from materials normally used in kit buildings,
See footnote the State Board should
have inferred that their improvements were preengineered and predesigned pole buildings. (
Petr Post Tr. Br. at 45.) However, the mere fact that an
improvement is built of materials commonly used in kit buildings does not necessarily
mean that the improvement is a preengineered and predesigned pole building. See
Barker v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 712 N.E.2d 563, 567 (Ind. Tax
Ct. 1999) (noting that although kit buildings have metal walls, not all metal-walled
improvements are kit buildings). Consequently, the Pucketts have not presented probative evidence
sufficient to establish a prima face case.
For the aforementioned reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the State Boards final determinations.
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), and the
Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board).
Ind. Code §§ 6-1.1-30-1.1; 6-1.5-1-3
(West Supp. 2001); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 §§ 66, 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 § 6-1.5-5-8 (West Supp. 2001) (eff. 2002); 2001
Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Nevertheless, the law in effect prior to
January 1, 2002 applies to these appeals. 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
Other than a procedural history, the State Boards final determinations do not
include any details of the Pucketts assessment.
See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-11-6 (Sched. A.4) (1996).
Generally, kit buildings are made of light[-]weight and inexpensive materials and are
fabricated at central manufacturing facilities and shipped to the construction site ready for
fast and efficient assembly.
Hamstra Builders, Inc. v. Dept of Local Govt
Fin., 783 N.E.2d 387, 390 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Pucketts also argue that the classification of their improvements as special
purpose design is arbitrary and capricious because the phrase special purpose design is
undefined. The Court disagrees. The State Board incorporates standard appraisal terms
into its rules.
See, e.g., Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, rr. 2.2-1-1
et seq.; 2.2-16-1 et seq. (1996). Special purpose design is a standard
appraisal term and refers to structures with unique designs, special construction materials, or
layouts that restrict their utility to the use for which they were originally
built. Appraisal Inst., The Appraisal of Real Estate 25 (12th ed. 2001).
Finally, the Pucketts argue that the D grade assigned to their improvements was
arbitrary and capricious. However, the record indicates that the Pucketts expressly waived
the issue of grade at their administrative hearing. (Stip. R. at 85,
107.) Thus, the Court will not address the issue of grade. See
Hoogenboom-Nofziger v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 715 N.E.2d 1018, 1022 (Ind. Tax.
Ct. 1999) (holding that when a taxpayer waives an issue at the administrative
level, the Court will not consider it for the first time on appeal).