Indiana Homeowners failed to prove $0 value for partially constructed residence assessed as 100% complete

Indiana Homeowners failed to prove $0 value for partially constructed residence assessed as 100% complete

house with brick

Owners failed to show partially constructed home should have $0 assessment.

In Jones v. Jefferson County Assessor (May 4, 2016), Homeowners in Jefferson County argued that their partially constructed home should not have been assessed as 100% complete for the 2008 and 2009 tax years.  In fact, they argued, the residence should be assigned a $0 value for assessment purposes.  The home was constructed on 100 acres of land in Southeastern Indiana.  For both tax years, the home was assessed for more than $500,000.  On appeal to the Indiana Board of Tax Review, Homeowners provided a letter authored by the township’s Trustee/Assessor to the County Assessor stating that, due to litigation between Homeowners and their contractor, the residence was only partially constructed and uninhabitable.  The Indiana Board agreed that the residence was assessed as fully completed but “clearly it was not.”  Slip op. at 3.  Nevertheless, the Board concluded that the assessments would stand because Homeowners’ “primary evidence, the Trustee/Assessor’s document, was unreliable and provided insufficient support for the requested valuation of $0.”  Id.

Before the Tax Court, Homeowners reiterated that because their home was only partially constructed in 2008 and 2009, it was ineligible for assessment and therefore had no value.  The Court, however, noted that Indiana Code § 6-1.1-2-1 provides that “all tangible property which is within the jurisdiction of this state on the assessment date of a year is subject to assessment and taxation for that year.”  The County Assessor was obligated to determine the property’s true tax value.  Homeowners provided no market-based evidence of the property’s value to the Indiana Board for either tax year.  (They submitted additional evidence to the Court, but the documents had not been presented to the Indiana Board and thus could not be considered by the Court.)  Without market-based evidence to review, the Court would not reverse the Indiana Board’s ruling.

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