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Clarifications of statute still keep burden of proof on county assessor

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A county assessor’s attempt to shift the burden of proof onto a landowner in a dispute over a property assessment that increased more than 5 percent failed to convince the Indiana Tax Court.

In Orange County Assessor v. James E. Stout, 49T10-1112-TA-94, the Tax Court affirmed the finding by the Indiana Board of Tax Review that the assessor bore the burden of proving that Stout’s land assessment was proper.

The assessor appealed, claiming the board incorrectly applied the 2011 statute to an assessment that was made for the 2009 tax year. The review board used Indiana Code 6-1.1-15-17 to find the assessor had to prove the assessment that had increased more than 5 percent in one year was proper. Stout’s assessed value ballooned from $8,000 in 2008 to $45,600 in 2009.

Dismantling the assessor’s appeal, the Tax Court pointed out two reasons why the argument failed.  

First, the Tax Court rejected the claim that I.C. 6-1.1-15-17 is not a new statute. The General Assembly established the assessor had the burden of proof in 2009. It subsequently clarified the statute in 2011 but still gave the assessor the burden of proof.

Second, the Tax Court did not agree with the assessor’s contention that for I.C. 6-1.1-15-17 to apply, the assessment and appeal must have occurred after the statute’s effective date.

The Tax Court held the 2009 and 2011 statutes both indicate the burden of proof shifts from the taxpayer to an assessing office when the taxpayer files an appeal to an assessment that increases by more than 5 percent from one year to the next.

“This shift in burden of proof applies to the process and procedure of appeals alone, not to the mechanics of valuing property as of a certain assessment date,” Judge Martha Wentworth wrote. “Accordingly, the statutes apply to all pending appeals regardless of assessment dates.”

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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