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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. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

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