Indiana Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of Tax Court’s decision affirming assessment of vacant land for agricultural use

Indiana Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of Tax Court’s decision affirming assessment of vacant land for agricultural use

On Friday, October 4, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court by unanimous vote issued an order denying the Hamilton County Assessor’s petition for review in Hamilton County Assessor v. Allisonville Road Development, LLC.  I summarized this decision in a previous blog post, concluding:

The Assessor “missed the big picture” of the developer’s discount.  Slip op. at 5.  The statute was “designed to encourage developers to buy farmland, subdivide it into lots, and resell the lots.” Slip op. at 6 (quoting Aboite Corp. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm’rs, 762 N.E.2d 254, 257 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2001)).  That is the “bedrock purpose” of the statute, which as a whole “promotes commercial development by allowing a developer’s land to be assessed on the basis of its original (i.e. its pre-purchase) classification until an objective event signaling the commencement of development occurs.”  Slip op. at 6.  Cessation of farming activities followed by the land’s non-use “does not necessarily evidence the imminence of commercial development.” Slip op. at 7.  The Court noted that land may lie fallow but remain agricultural.  The Indiana Board’s final determination was not erroneous.  The Court also observed that the developer’s discount essentially acted as an exception to the statute that land must be devoted to agricultural purposes to be assessed as farmland.  Slip op. at 7. n.8.

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