ATTORNEYS FOR PETITIONERS: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION
G. JOHN CENTO STEVE CARTER
THOMAS M. ATHERTON ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA
KATZ & KORIN, PC Indianapolis, IN
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA TAX COURT
MARK K. GRIDER and JAYNE M. GRIDER, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-0107-TA-56
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL )
OF THE STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS
December 11, 2003
Mark K. Grider and Jayne M. Grider (the Griders) appeal the final determination
of the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) valuing their real property
for the March 1, 1998 assessment date. The sole issue for the
Court to decide is whether the State Board erred in assigning an A
grade to the Griders home.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 1997, the Griders designed and built a 3,900 square foot brick home
in Hamilton County, Indiana in which to showcase their extensive collection of antique
furnishings. The exterior of the Griders home was designed to resemble a
19th century stable. The interior of the home was designed without decorative
molding, door or window frames, closets, carpeting or built-in cupboards all things
the Griders believed might detract attention from their antique collection.
For the 1998 assessment date, the local assessing officials assigned the Griders home
a grade factor of A+2. Displeased with this grade, the Griders challenged
the assessment with the Hamilton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA).
The PTABOA reduced the grade factor to an A.
Still believing the grade factor to be too high, the Griders filed a
Petition for Review of Assessment (Form 131) with the State Board on August
13, 1999. Following an administrative hearing, the State Board issued a final
determination on the Griders Form 131 in which it affirmed the PTABOAs decision.
The Griders initiated an original tax appeal on July 6, 2001. Trial
was held on February 4, 2002. The Court heard the parties oral
arguments on August 9, 2002. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.
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). Thus, the Court will reverse a final determination of the State
Board when it is:
arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;
contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;
in excess of or short of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations;
without observance of procedure required by law; or
unsupported by substantial or reliable evidence.
Ind. Code § 33-3-5-14.1 (West Supp. 2003) (eff. 7-1-01).
The Griders claim that the State Board erroneously graded their home. Specifically,
they argue that the homes current grade factor of A is excessive and
that the grade should be C+2. (Petrs Pet. to Appeal Final Determination
Under Indianas true tax value system, residential dwellings are assigned various grades based
on their design, quality of workmanship, and quality of materials used in their
construction. See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-7-6(c) (1996). For
instance, the State Boards assessment regulations describe an A grade dwelling as one
of outstanding architectural style. The design, craftsmanship, and materials are of exceptionally
high quality. The detail and ornamentation are aesthetically appealing. Ind. Admin.
Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-7-6(d)(1) (1996). Consequently, the features of an A
grade dwelling might include:
 Numerous cuts, angles, or unusual shapes in the wall outline.
 Several different roof lines or angles.
 Generous to extreme roof pitch.
 Generous to extreme roof overhangs.
 Superior quality interior finish, including floor and wall coverings, doors, windows, woodwork,
 Numerous built-in features.
 High grade lighting and plumbing fixtures.
 Deluxe climate control system.
 Architecturally designed.
Id. In contrast, a C grade dwelling is moderately attractive . .
. constructed with average quality materials and workmanship[.] Ind. Admin. Code tit.
50, r. 2.2-7-6(d)(3) (1996). Thus, the features of a C grade dwelling
 Simple wall outline.
 Simple roof lines.
 Normal roof pitch.
 Normal roof overhang.
 Average quality finish, including floor and wall coverings, doors, windows, woodwork, and
 Adequate number of built-in features.
 Average quality lighting and plumbing fixtures.
 Average climate control system.
 Typical subdivision homes with limited available number of models with various options
available from a developer or homes in a typical multifamily residential complex.
The party challenging the propriety of a State Board final determination bears the
burden of demonstrating its invalidity. Thousand Trails, 757 N.E.2d at 1075.
Consequently, the Griders bore the burden to submit probative evidence showing that the
State Board either improperly gave their home an A grade or improperly denied
their home a C+2 grade. See Deer Creek Developers, Ltd. v. Dept
of Local Govt Fin., 769 N.E.2d 259, 265-66 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2002).
At the administrative hearing, the Griders submitted the following evidence: 1) fifteen
photographs, depicting both the homes exterior and interior; and 2) a photocopy of
a record card on an allegedly comparable property. In addition, the Griders
testified as to the following features of their home:
Foundation: [s]imple poured concrete wall, 4-inch slab in the basement crawl area,
more of a concrete.
Stories: its been referred to by the assessors as one and ¾.
Structural flooring: 2x10 single beam set on a 4 slab[.]
Exterior walls: [s]tandard studs in the wall, brick veneer.
Windows: wood casement windows.
Doors: wood doors. Those are not new doors; those have been
collected from salvage yards in the Midwest. My wife designed the house
to fit the doors.
Roof: [s]traightforward in design. [A] couple of angles and wood shake
shingles. 2x6 [rafters]. . . . Theres copper flashings. There are
no gutters on this home.
Garage: [i]t does not have a garage. Attached or separate.
Interior finish: drywall with two coats of paint. Standard drywall, ½.
No baseboards, no molding of any type. No chair rails.
We have no built-ins. No built in closets.
Plumbing and Lighting Fixtures: plumbing is . . . retrieved from salvage
yards around the Midwest. There is standard PVC tubing, plastic tubing which
is hooking them up, there is also with regards to light fixtures, again
a collection of salvage yards. Inexpensive.
(Cert. Admin. R. at 77-83.) The Griders assert that their testimony, when
considered in light of the State Boards grade specification chart, see 50 IAC
2.2-7-6, indicates that their home has numerous features of B grade, C grade,
as well as even D grade, homes. (See Cert. Admin. R. at
105.) Accordingly, the Griders contend that their homes appropriate grade could not
possibly be an A. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 106.) * * * * *
The Griders have presented probative evidence supporting their position on grade. See
Sollers Pointe Co. v. Dept of Local Govt Fin., 790 N.E.2d 185, 191
(Ind. Tax Ct. 2003) (stating that to make a prima facie case on
grade, a taxpayer can offer specific evidence tied to the descriptions of the
various grade classifications). Thus, it is incumbent on the State Board to
rebut the Griders evidence and to come forward with probative evidence that would
substantiate the application of an A grade. Cf. Whitley Prods., Inc. v.
State Bd. of Tax Commrs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1119-20 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998)
(stating that when taxpayers fail to provide the State Board with probative evidence
supporting their position on a grade issue, the State Boards duty to support
its final determination with substantial evidence is not triggered), review denied. Accordingly,
the State Board argues that while it recognizes that the Griders home does
not have certain features that are attributable to an A grade home (i.e.,
decorative moldings, gutters), the home does have certain other features that justify the
application of an A grade. In denying the Griders claim, the State
Board relied on the testimony of the local assessing officials:
both sides agree that the house i[s] unique in its design and its
construction. . . . In picking the grade . . . we compared
the Griders home to what is found in average [i.e., a C grade].
. . . The physical construction of the house is very solid[,] exceeding
what would normally be found in average construction.
[T]he brick work [g]oes  to the peaks of the house, there are
four peaks, on the house . . . We also noticed that
the roof, and for a lack of better term, that the roofline would
appear similar to a parapet on a commercial building. The roofline extends
past the roof and this is also capped with limestone trim, once again
we do not have a value or a way to account for that
and that would be on all four peaks of the roof as well.
Going to the roof pitch, it indicates that there is a 10/12
and a 12/12 pitch on the home, the average construction has closer to
a 4/12 roof pitch, this would far exceed what an average home will
have in the State of Indiana. The roofline is somewhat simple, yet
it is, I would call it a multi-gable roof, and there is more
than one roofline on the top of the house. The walls are
framed with 2x6s instead of 2x4s, which once again would be found in
average construction. And . . . [t]he wood shake roof is also
normally considered an upgrade versus asphalt shingles. Casement windows versus single hung
or double hung windows. Copper flashing versus aluminum. The floors are
being framed with 2x10s and the [blue]prints show that they were various from
12 on center to 16 on center and so were hovering between I
guess the A and B grade if you were looking at that grade
specification table. Also on the front of the house, it is true
the house has no gutter . . . it does have however a
2 overhang . . . normal average construction is 4-6. 2 is
definitely above what is considered average.
* * * * *
We assess a chimney stack and an opening, and if you would go
out to a C grade home today, the stack and chimney would normally
measure 3X5 and this particular fireplace has an outside fireplace or barbeque pit
. . . nine feet wide by about its looks like its five,
six feet from one side to the other.
* * * * *
I believe . . . granite or slate or marble or hard
surface was used for the kitchen counter tops and the work areas.
* * * * *
[With respect to the salvaged tub, by the fact that i]ts that old
and still usable, I would say its superior quality. CONCLUSION
(Cert. Admin. R. at 84-89, 99.)
In essence, this case involves a difference in opinions -- the Griders invite
this Court to substitute its subjective determination of grade for that of the
State Board. The Court declines the invitation. See Clark v. State
Bd. of Tax Commrs, 694 N.E.2d 1230, 1236 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998).
Rather, the Court can only review the administrative record to determine whether there
is substantial evidence to support the State Boards final determination. A State
Board final determination is supported with substantial evidence
See footnote if a reasonable person could
view the record in its entirety and find enough relevant evidence to support
the State Board's determination.
Amax Inc. Through Amax Coal Co. v. State
Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 552 N.E.2d 850, 852 (Ind. Tax Ct.1990) (footnote added).
Based on the evidence contained in the administrative record, it is clear
to this Court that the State Board presented substantial evidence to support its
determination that an A grade was properly assigned to the Griders home.
For all the foregoing reasons, this Court AFFIRMS the final determination of the
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
(West Supp. 2003)(eff.1-1-02); 6-1.5-1-3 (West. Supp. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 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. 2003)(eff. 1-1-02); 2001 Ind. Acts 198 § 95. Moreover, 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 this opinion.
"Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
Amax Inc. Through Amax Coal Co. v. State Bd. of Tax
Comm'rs, 552 N.E.2d 850, 852 (Ind. Tax Ct.1990) (citing South Shore Marina, Inc.
v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 527 N.E.2d 738, 742 (Ind. Tax Ct.1988)).