ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONERS:
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
TIMOTHY J. VRANA
SHARPNACK BIGLEY LLP
WILMER E. GOERING
Columbus, IN ECKERT ALCORN GOERING & SAGE LLP
INDIANA TAX COURT
GERALD AND MARGARET FUCHS, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-0211-TA-132
MADISON TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR, )
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF
THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
October 13, 2004
Petitioners Gerald and Margaret Fuchs (the Fuchs) appeal the Indiana Board of Tax
Reviews (Indiana Board) final determination valuing their real property for the 1997, 1998,
and 1999 tax years. Although the Fuchs raise other issues on appeal,
the dispositive issue in this case is whether the Jefferson County Property Tax
Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) erred in issuing an interim reassessment on the
Fuchs property in the absence of any changes to the property.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Fuchs own a platted parcel of land in Jefferson County, Indiana.
The Jefferson County Land Order provides that parcels that are not platted should
be priced no higher than $24,750.00 per acre, while commercial/industrial platted lots should
be priced no higher than $900.00 per front foot. For the 1995
general reassessment, the Madison Township Assessor (Assessor) assessed the Fuchs property at $23,830.00,
using the $900.00 per front foot rate.
The Fuchs appealed the assessment to the Jefferson County Board of Review (BOR)
which affirmed the assessment. On June 19, 1996, the Fuchs filed a
Petition for Review of Assessment (Form 131) with the State Board of Tax
Commissioners (State Board) contending that the land should instead be assessed at $24,750.00
per acre. The State Board issued its final determination on December 2,
1998, reversing the BOR. More specifically, the State Board found that the
lot was not platted and should therefore be priced no higher than $24,750.00
See footnote The Assessor requested a rehearing with the State Board, which
was denied. The Assessor subsequently requested the State Board to reconsider its
denial of the request for rehearing. This request was also denied.
On September 8, 1999, the PTABOASee footnote reassessed the Fuchs parcel at $900.00 per
front foot. This interim assessment was issued on the basis that the
parcel was actually platted, not unplatted as the State Board had found.
The Fuchs filed a Form 131 on October 5, 1999, challenging the reassessment.See footnote
On October 9, 2002, the Indiana BoardSee footnote issued a final determination affirming
the PTABOAs interim assessment and holding that the State Boards final determination had
been in error.
The Fuchs initiated an original tax appeal on November 15, 2002. This
Court heard the parties oral arguments on October 6, 2003. Additional facts
will be supplied as necessary.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
This Court gives great deference to final determinations of the Indiana Board.
Wittenberg Lutheran Vill. Endowment Corp. v. Lake County Prop. Tax Assessment Bd. of
Appeals, 782 N.E.2d 483, 486 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003), review denied. Consequently,
the Court will reverse a final determination of the Indiana Board only if
arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or
otherwise not in accordance with law;
contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege,
in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or
limitations, or short of statutory jurisdiction,
authority, or limitations;
without observance of procedure required by law; or
unsupported by substantial or reliable
Ind. Code Ann. § 33-26-6-6(e)(1)-(5) (West Supp. 2004). The party seeking to
overturn the Indiana Boards final determination bears the burden of proving its invalidity.
Osolo Township Assessor v. Elkhart Maple Lane Assocs., L.P., 789 N.E.2d 109,
111 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003).
All real property in Indiana is assessed during a general reassessment. Ind.
Code Ann. § 6-1.1-4-4 (West Supp. 2004). Property values assigned in
a general reassessment are carried forward from year to year until the next
general reassessment. See Wetzel Enters., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs,
694 N.E.2d 1259, 1260 n.3 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998). Nevertheless, assessing officials
may reassess real property between general reassessments in order to reflect changes to
the property itself or in the use of the property that may increase
or decrease the assessment value. See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-4-25 (West
Supp. 2004); see also Williams Indus. v. State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 648
N.E.2d 713, 715 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995). When such interim reassessments are
made, assessing officials must provide the taxpayer with sufficient notice and an opportunity
to rebut any proposed changes. See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-4-22 (West
2004); see also Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-4-30 (West 2004). However, when
no changes occur to the property to affect its general reassessment value, that
value must be carried forward until the next general reassessment. See Williams
Indus., 648 N.E.2d at 716.
The Fuchs contend that the Indiana Board erred in affirming the PTABOAs interim
reassessment because there were no changes in the subject property since the 1995
general reassessment. However, the Assessor maintains that there was, in fact, a
change to the property that warranted the issuance of the interim reassessment.
The Assessors argument, in effect, is that the property changed from an unplatted
lot to a platted lot and that the interim assessment was issued to
reflect this change. (See Respt Br. at 8; Oral Argument Tr. at
19.) The Court disagrees.
Jefferson County plat records show that the parcel has been platted since 1958.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 16.) As such, it was platted
at the time of the 1995 general reassessment and has remained unchanged in
See footnote Furthermore, the Assessor has not pointed to any other changes
in the property that would warrant the issuance of an interim reassessment.
Accordingly, because there have been no changes to the property since the 1995
general reassessment, the value assigned during that assessment should carry forward until the
next general reassessment. The Indiana Board therefore erred in affirming the PTABOAs
For the foregoing reasons, the Indiana Boards 2002 final determination is REVERSED.
The Indiana Board shall, on remand, instruct the local assessing officials to reassess
the property using the rate of $24,750.00 per acre.
The record indicates that the parcel is less than 0.2 acres.
(Cert. Admin. R. at 6, 111, 163.) Thus, the resulting assessment was
Footnote: The legislature transferred the authority and duties of the local Boards of
Review to their successors, the local Property Tax Assessment Boards of Appeal.
See Ind. Code Ann. 6-1.1-13-1 (West 2004).
The Fuchs appealed directly to the State Board. (Cert. Admin. R.
Footnote: The State Board of Tax Commissioners was abolished by the legislature as
of December 31, 2001. 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 119(b)(2). In
its stead, the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) was created.
Ind. Code §§ 6-1.5-1-3; 6-1.5-4-1 (West Supp. 2004); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 §
95. Consequently, when this second final determination was issued on the Fuchs
appeal, it was issued by the Indiana Board.
This may seem a somewhat harsh result because the State Board, by
the Indiana Boards own admission, simply made a mistake when it issued its
final determination in the first appeal finding that the subject property was unplatted.
See Cert. Admin. R. at 78.) The Assessor was prevented from
appealing that final determination to this Court because the refund at issue, $4,433.32,
did not meet the minimum jurisdictional requirement for an appeal to the Tax
Court. See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-5(f) (West 1998) (providing that the
assessor could appeal if the refund at issue exceeded the lesser of eight
hundred thousand dollars ($800,000) or an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of
the aggregate tax levies of all taxing units in the county for that
year). However, assessors in cases arising after January 1, 2002 will not
necessarily be bound in this way. See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-15-5(e)
(West Supp. 2004) (eff. 1-1-02); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 45 (providing that
an assessor may petition for judicial review regardless of the refund amount in