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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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