Tax Court affirms for iron company in Kosciuscko County dispute

The Indiana Tax Court has affirmed the Indiana Board of Tax Review’s final determination that an iron company’s 2017 personal property tax assessment was final.

In May 2017, Dalton Corporation filed personal property tax returns with the Kosciusko County assessor reporting the assessed value of its personal property for the 2017 tax year and claiming, among other things, an adjustment for abnormal obsolescence. The assessor then issued a notice of assessment/change, known as a Form 113, that increased Dalton’s assessed value by removing its abnormal obsolescence adjustment.

Dalton appealed the assessment increase to the Kosciusko County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and filed a petition for review of assessment with the Indiana board claiming its personal property was entitled to the abnormal obsolescence adjustment. However, Dalton’s sole argument was that the values it reported on its 2017 personal property tax return should have been deemed final as a matter of law because the PTABOA failed to issue its final determination by the October 30 deadline as required under Indiana Code § 6-1.1-16.

The Indiana board issued its final determination that did not include any analysis of the merits of the abnormal obsolescence adjustment, but concluded that Dalton’s self-reported assessed values were final, effectively granting the obsolescence adjustment.

On appeal, the assessor asserted that Dalton waived its right to claim that the Oct. 30 deadline applied to the timing of the PTABOA’s final determination because Dalton did not raise the issue on its Form 131 or obtain consent to do so from the Assessor. It additionally argued that Dalton appealed its increased assessed value under Chapter 15 rather than Chapter 16, acquiescing to the authority of its deadlines.

But the Indiana Tax Court affirmed for Dalton, first finding that by responding to the newly raised issue and failing to object to it, the assessor consented, both overtly and by implication, to trying the issue.

“Therefore, Dalton did not waive its right to raise the issue by not including it in its Form 131 petition, and the Court will not reverse the final determination on this basis,” Judge Martha Wentworth wrote for the Tax Court.

Regarding the waiver-due-to-acquiescence issue, the Tax Court concluded that the assessor did not raise the issue at the Indiana board hearing or present evidence that can be found in the certified administrative record.

“That said, even if the Court were able to consider this issue, the factual distinctions the Assessor identifies are not persuasive that Dalton’s appeal filed after October 30, 2017, was an affirmative act of acquiescence to the Chapter 15 deadlines. Indeed, Dalton had the right to appeal to protect its tax position, which is not automatically an affirmative act of acquiescence to the Chapter 15 deadlines superseding and nullifying the October 30 deadline in Chapter 16. Accordingly, the Court will not reverse the final determination on this basis either,” the Tax Court wrote.

Finally, it declined to reconsider arguments made and resolved in the cases of Washington Township Assessor v. Verizon Data Services, Inc., 43 N.E.3d 697 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2015)  and Allen County Assessor v. Verizon Data Services, Inc., 43 N.E.3d 705 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2015) finding that the assessor’s remaining arguments were the same.

“For the foregoing reasons, the final determination of the Indiana Board is affirmed, and the matter is remanded to the Indiana Board to ensure the Assessor reinstates the assessed values Dalton reported on its 2017 personal property tax return,” it concluded.

The case is Kosciusko County Assessor v. Dalton Corporation, 19T-TA-10.

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