NANCY A. DAW, STEPHEN L. HOBACK, Co-Trustees of Sagacious Sentinel Sycamore Revocable Trust, Petitioners,
HANCOCK COUNTY ASSESSOR, Respondent.
APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX
PETITIONERS APPEARING PRO SE: NANCY A. DAW STEPHEN L. HOBACK
ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: CURTIS T. HILL, JR. ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF INDIANA ZACHARY D. PRICE MATTHEW R. ELLIOTT DEPUTY
ATTORNEYS GENERAL Indianapolis, IN
FISHER, SENIOR JUDGE
A. Daw and Stephen L. Hoback, the Co-Trustees of the
Sagacious Sentinel Sycamore Revocable Trust, have appealed
the Indiana Board of Tax Review's final determination
regarding the assessment of their real property for the 2016
tax year. While the Co-Trustees raise several issues on
appeal, the Court consolidates them and restates them as:
I. Whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the
Co-Trustees' annexation and storm water claims; and
II. Whether the Indiana Board erred in upholding the
assessment of the Co-Trustees' farmland. Upon review, the
Court finds in favor of the Co-Trustees with respect to Issue
I and in favor of the Assessor with respect to Issue II.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
the 2016 tax year, the Co-Trustees owned 54.05 acres of land
located along a portion of West County Road 650 North in the
Town of McCordsville, Hancock County, Indiana. (See
Cert. Admin. R. at 99, 141.) They leased 37 acres of the land
to a farmer who used no-till practices to cultivate and
harvest field corn and soybeans. (See Cert. Admin.
R. at 27-28, 60.) The remainder of the land was unsuitable
for farming and thus remained in its natural state. (See,
e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 27-28.)
2016 tax year, the Hancock County Assessor assigned the
property an assessed value of $88, 400. The Co-Trustees
appealed the assessment, first to the Hancock County Property
Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and then to the Indiana
Indiana Board held a hearing on the matter on August 18,
2017. During the hearing, the Co-Trustees claimed their
property tax liability was incorrect because the ordinance
that purported to annex their farm land to the Town of
McCordsville (the "Town") was invalid.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 62-63, 181-82.) The
Co-Trustees also claimed they did not owe nearly $3, 000 in
delinquent storm water charges and penalties that resulted
from the Town's unauthorized imposition of a tax.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 25, 171-77.) The Co-Trustees
further asserted that 1.05 acres of their land should have
been assessed as nontillable land because it was incapable of
being farmed, and that their overall assessment was too high
given their land's actual crop production capacity.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 158-70.)
response, the Assessor argued that the Co-Trustees'
annexation and storm water claims should be dismissed because
the Indiana Board lacked the statutory authority to address
them. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 148-49, 226-27.) The
Assessor also claimed that her assessment should be upheld in
its entirety because it comported with Indiana's
assessment guidelines for agricultural property.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 200-19, 227-28.)
January 17, 2018, the Indiana Board issued its final
determination that declined to address the Co-Trustees'
annexation and storm water claims due to a lack of statutory
authority. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 118-20
¶¶ 12-13, 19.) The Indiana Board also determined
that while the Co-Trustees had shown that 1.05 acres of their
land should have been assessed as nontillable land, they
failed to show that their assessment should be changed in any
other manner. (See Cert. Adm in. R. at 119-20
March 2, 2018, the Co-Trustees filed a petition for review
with the Tax Court. The Tax Court heard oral argument on
September 14, 2018. Additional facts will be supplied when
party seeking to overturn a final determination of the
Indiana Board bears the burden of demonstrating its
invalidity. Osolo Twp. Assessor v. Elkhart Maple Lane
Assocs., 789 N.E.2d 109, 111 (Ind. Tax Ct. 2003). Thus,
the Co-Trustees must demonstrate to the Court that the
Indiana Board's final determination is arbitrary,
capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in
accordance with law; contrary to constitutional right, power,
privilege, or immunity; in excess or short of statutory
jurisdiction, authority, or limitations; without ...