ILNews

Tax Court sidesteps first-impression issue

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Although the Indiana Tax Court had the opportunity to address an issue of first impression, it decided to save its analysis of the issue for another day because the case could be resolved on other grounds.

The opportunity arose in Big Foot Stores LLC v. Franklin Township Assessor, et al., Nos. 49T10-0712-TA-74, -75, -76, and -77. Big Foot appealed the Indiana Board of Tax Review's final determinations that upheld the 2003 interim assessments of three of Big Foot's convenience stores and an office building in Grant County. The assessors believed the properties were undervalued and reassessed them. As a result, the assessments on the properties jumped more than $200,000 each.

Tax Judge Thomas Fisher found the tax board didn't err when it determined the assessors' interim assessments were authorized under Indiana Code Section 6-1.1-9-1.

Big Foot argued the assessments were improper because they were "sales chasing" or "spot assessments" because Big Foot's stores were the only ones to be reassessed because they had been sold. Whether interim assessments of two recently sold classes of property may be upheld when unsold properties of the same classifications and within the same taxing jurisdiction were not reassessed is one of first impression in Indiana.

But instead of analyzing that issue, Judge Fisher resolved the appeal using established caselaw. The assessors needed to provide some explanation as to how the June 19, 2002, and July 16, 2003, sales prices of Big Foot's properties were related to their values as of Jan. 1, 1999, the appropriate valuation date for the 2003 tax year.

The assessors made no showing, so the tax board erred in upholding Big Foot's 2003 interim assessments because they were based on market value-in-use evidence which had no probative value with respect to the appropriate valuation date, wrote Judge Fisher.

He remanded it to the tax board so that it may instruct the appropriate assessing officials to reinstate the assessed values assigned to Big Foot's properties during the 2002 tax year.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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