Evidence shows outrage over property tax assessment is a case of ‘buyer’s remorse’

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A dispute over a property tax assessment of a mobile home park is a case of buyer’s remorse and not indicative of an error by the Indiana Board of Tax Review, the Indiana Tax Court has ruled.

In Shelbyville MHPI, LLC v. Anne Thurston, in her official capacity as Assessor, Shelby County, 49T10-1003-TA-14, the Indiana Tax Court affirmed the IBTR’s decision to uphold the Shelby County assessor’s assessment of the property.  

Shelbyville MHPI, LLC bought a 51.04 acre mobile home park in December 2004 for $4,266,400. This amount was close to an independent appraisal that valued a portion of the park at $4.2 million.

For the 2006 tax year, the Shelby County assessor assessed MHPI’s property at $4,983,300. When MHPI appealed, the Shelby County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals reduced the assessment to $4,263,800.

However in October 2008, MHPI appealed to the IBTR, claiming its assessment was still too high. During the hearing, MHPI presented an appraisal that estimated the market value-in-use of the park at $2.9 million as of Jan. 1, 2005. In response, the assessor presented an appraisal which valued the property at $4.2 million as of Nov. 4, 2004. The assessor pointed out that MHPI purchased the park for just over $4.2 million in December 2004 which supported the county’s assessment.

The IBTR found the assessor’s evidentiary presentation more persuasive and upheld MHPI’s assessment.

MHPI appealed to the Indiana Tax Court. It asserted, in part, that the IBTR should have completely rejected or significantly discounted the assessor’s December 2004 sales evidence because MHPI had demonstrated it never would have paid over $4.2 million for the property had it known that Indiana’s re-trending process would cause the property taxes to “sky rocket.”

In addressing that issue, the court found MHPI made an incorrect assumption when it thought its assessment and associated property tax liability would remain relatively constant. The December 2004 sales evidence reflected both the robustness and stability of the manufactured home market for the 2006 tax year but also shows what MHPI believed the property to be worth at the time of purchase.

In opinion, Senior Judge Thomas Fisher wrote, “Accordingly, while MHPI’s current complaints regarding its ‘sky rocketing’ property taxes are indicative of buyer’s remorse, they do not require the complete rejection or substantial discounting of the December 2004 sales evidence.”



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