Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis, IN


DANA CORPORATION,                                                         )
    Petitioner,                                                                )
    v.                                                                         )   Cause No. 49T10-9812-TA-190
DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL                                                            )
GOVERNMENT FINANCE, See footnote             )
    Respondent.            )    


July 25, 2003

Dana Corporation (Dana) appeals the final determinations of the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board) valuing its land for the 1991, 1992, and 1996 assessment years (years at issue). The issue for the Court to decide is whether the State Board erred when it refused to award Dana’s land a 95% negative influence factor. See footnote For the following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the State Board’s final determination.

Dana owns land and a commercial improvement in Wayne County, Indiana. Dana appealed both the 1991 and 1992 assessment of its property to the Wayne County Board of Review (BOR), arguing that its improvement was entitled to 95% obsolescence depreciation. The BOR denied both appeals. Dana appealed the BOR’s decisions to the State Board. On November 22, 1996, the State Board issued one final determination on both of Dana’s appeals, granting some, but not all of the obsolescence depreciation requested by Dana. Dana appealed the State Board’s final determination to this Court, which issued a remand order on July 29, 1998, pursuant to the parties’ request.
At the State Board’s remand hearing, Dana argued that because its land experienced some environmental contamination, its improvement was entitled to 95% obsolescence depreciation or, in the alternative, that its land was entitled to a 95% negative influence factor. On October 27, 1998, the State Board issued a final determination denying Dana’s requests.See footnote
On December 10, 1998, Dana initiated an original tax appeal for the years at issue. On September 29, 1999, the Court held a trial. The Court heard oral arguments on April 26, 2001. Additional facts will be supplied as needed.
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 Comm’rs, 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 taxpayer’s evidence and support its findings with substantial evidence. Id.

The sole issue is whether the State Board erred when it refused to award a 95% negative influence factor to Dana’s land. See footnote Under the State Board’s rules, an influence factor refers to a condition “peculiar to the acreage tract that dictates an adjustment to the extended value [of the land] to account for variations from the norm.” Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-4-17(c)(8) (1996). The amount of the influence factor is expressed as a percentage that is either added to or subtracted from the assessed value of the acreage, depending on whether it is a positive influence factor or a negative influence factor. See id. A taxpayer who seeks a negative influence factor must submit probative evidence that (1) identifies the property’s deviation from the norm and (2) quantifies the effect of that deviation on the property’s value. See Talesnick v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 756 N.E.2d 1104, 1108 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Because the State Board found that Dana’s land suffers from environmental contamination, the Court holds that Dana submitted probative evidence showing that its land deviates from the norm. (See Joint Ex. 1 at 19.) Thus, the remaining question is whether Dana submitted probative evidence quantifying the effect of the contamination on its land’s value.
In its brief, Dana states that it submitted the following evidence to the State Board: “actual amounts spent on remediation [of Dana’s contaminated land] . . ., the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved Closure Program . . ., reports from the contamination monitoring professionals . . ., and the cost estimate contained in the closure plan[.]” (Pet’r Post Hr’g Br. at 6–7 (internal citations omitted).) Dana then argues that the evidence supports a 95% negative influence factor and that the State Board failed to utilize this evidence. (Pet’r Post Hr’g Br. at 7.)
Dana—not the State Board—bears the initial burden of quantifying its requested negative influence factor. See Talesnick, 756 N.E.2d at 1108. Thus, Dana needs to show a causal link between (1) the contamination and (2) a reduction in property value; its evidence does not do so. See id. Because Dana has not shown how its evidence substantiates a 95% negative influence factor, it has not presented a prima facie case. See footnote


For the aforementioned reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the State Board’s final determination.

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. 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 this opinion.

Footnote: In addition, Dana raises various state and federal constitutional claims that this Court has declined to reach in previous cases. See, e.g., Barth, Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 756 N.E.2d 1124, 1127 n.1 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001). Because Dana’s claims and supporting arguments are identical to those previously rejected by the Court, the Court will not address them.

Footnote: At some point, Dana appealed its 1996 assessment. On or about the same date the State Board issued its final determination on remand for Dana’s 1991 and 1992 appeals, it issued a final determination on Dana’s appeal for 1996. However, the State Board lost the transcript and audiotapes for its 1996 decision. Nevertheless, because Dana’s 1996 assessment appeal deals with the same property and raises the same issue as the 1991 and 1992 appeals, the parties have agreed to join all three tax years into this appeal. ( See Trial Tr. at 4–5.)

Footnote: In its brief, Dana provides a short, general overview of some case law on obsolescence without actually connecting it to its request for obsolescence. ( See Pet’r Post Hr’g Br. at 4–5.) Dana is mistaken if it believes that its cursory mention of obsolescence will move this Court to specifically address whether and how the facts of the instant case support possible obsolescence depreciation for its improvement. If Dana wanted this Court to reach the issue of obsolescence, then it needed to present a cogent argument based on specific citations to evidence, not merely suggest obsolescence as a topic for discussion. See Clark v. Dep’t of Local Gov’t Fin., 779 N.E.2d 1277, 1282 n.4 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2002) (stating that with respect to obsolescence, “the taxpayer must carefully, methodically, and in detail brief this Court as to what the amount of obsolescence should be and why”).

Footnote: Subsequent to oral argument, Dana presented the Court with supplemental authority that discusses how to value contaminated property. While the valuation techniques discussed within the document are interesting, Dana does not apply any of the techniques to its own valuation. As a result, Dana’s supplemental authority does nothing to help its case.