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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. 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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