Man did not provide enough evidence to support lower home valuations

December 30, 2015

A homeowner seeking to reduce the valuation of his residential properties did not provide enough evidence to the Indiana Board of Tax Review to support his argument, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Wednesday in two separate appeals.

In in Mirko Blesich v. Lake County Assessor, 49T10-1410-TA-64, Mirko Blesich challenged the final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review that valued his St. John property at $300,000 for the 2007-2010 tax years. Blesich appealed those tax years after assessments ranged from $300,900 to $320,000. Both the county assessor and Blesich presented evidence in support of their positions, including the average sale prices of properties that had sold in Blesich’s neighborhood. Blesich believed his home should have been assessed at no more than $270,000 in any of those years.

The Board of Tax Review found both the assessor and Blesich failed to show either of their claimed assessments were correct, so it ordered the 2007-2010 assessments to revert to the property’s 2006 assessed value of $300,000.

Blesich presented information indicating three properties on his street sold for less per square foot than what his home was assessed at per square foot, but he did not provide specific information helpful to the tax board, Senior Judge Thomas Fisher wrote. In addition, the appraisal of his home valuing it at $275,000 was completed in March 2012 and he failed to provide any explanation of how its value related back.

Fisher concluded it is Blesich’s duty to walk the tax board through every element of his analysis and trend his 2012 appraisal back to a 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and/or 2010 value, which he did not do.  The Tax Court affirmed the board’s final determination.

In Mirko Blesich v. Lake County Assessor, 49T10-1411-TA-67, Blesich appealed the final valuation of his residential property in Schererville at $205,000 for the 2010 tax year. He presented at a hearing an appraisal valuing it at $181,000, as well as a letter from the township assessor’s office in which it offered to settle his appeal by valuing his home at $193,700 for 2010 tax year and $185,800 for the 2011 tax year. The Board of Tax Review found the appraisal was admissible hearsay, but it could not be the sole basis for a reduction of the assessment because the county assessor had properly raised the hearsay objection without exception.

Blesich argued the board erred and his 2010 assessment should have been reduced. But Fisher again ruled against Blesich, noting he litigated this matter under the board’s small claims rules, which say that the board’s final determination cannot be based solely upon hearsay evidence which is properly objected to by the other party.

The rejection of the settlement letter was also proper because settlement terms and settlement negotiations are not allowed under Indiana Rules of Evidence to prove either the liability for or the invalidity of a claim or its amount, Fisher noted.


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