Indiana Tax Court Upholds Residential Land Value

Indiana Tax Court Upholds Residential Land Value

The Tax Court refused to reweigh the evidence in the administrative record in affirming the value of residential land.

The Tax Court refused to reweigh the evidence in the administrative record in affirming the value of residential land.

On September 9, 2015, the Indiana Tax Court upheld the Indiana Board of Tax Review’s decision affirming an assessor’s residential land valuation.  In Cooper v. Allen County Assessor, Homeowners argued that the March 1, 2012, assessment of their 7.78 acres of land should be reduced from $172,500 (nearly $22,200 per acre) to $62,240 ($8,000 per acre).   At the administrative hearing, Homeowners submitted a 2011 appraisal indicating the lower value – which reflected the land’s 2007 purchase price.  However, other evidence showed that Homeowners acquired the land from a relative, with no money actually changing hands.  The Assessor, in turn, submitted evidence of the sales prices and listings of vacant lots in the neighborhood, ranging in value from $20,000 to $25,000 per acre.  The Board concluded that the Assessor had the burden of proof to support her assessment and did so through the evidence submitted.  Furthermore, the Board concluded that Homeowners’ appraisal lacked credibility.  Slip op. at 3.

On appeal, Homeowners challenged the probative value of Assessor’s evidence, arguing that she failed to explain how the comparable properties differed from the subject land and how those differences impacted the properties’ relative values.  The comparable lots were in the same neighborhood and thus presumed comparable.  Slip op. at 5.  And the Assessor’s evidence, including testimony and exhibits, “was sufficient to demonstrate that the [Homeowners’] lot and the other lots within [the neighborhood] were comparable.”  Slip op. at 6.  The record included “ample evidence” supporting the land’s assessment, so the Board had not abused its discretion in upholding the Assessor’s value.  Id.  In affirming the Board’s ruling, the Court declined to reweigh the evidence.  Id. at 6-7.

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