Jackson County homeowners who claimed to be victims of an abusive tax assessment system failed to convince the Indiana Tax Court that a 2018 valuation of their home was incorrect.
Mathew and Vanessa DuSablon own a home on 10.28 acres outside of Seymour. Her home, which was purchased for $ 380,000 in 2014, was valued at $ 372,000 for the 2018 tax year. This was an amount the couple requested from the Board of Appeal for the Jackson County property tax assessment, which ultimately decreased to $ 364,300.
Still unsatisfied, the DuSablons sought a review from the Indiana Board of Tax Review. There Jackson County appraiser Katie Kaufman submitted an appraisal report, along with the testimony of its author Richard Borges, an Indiana certified general appraiser and a member of the Appraisal Institute. That report found the home to be worth $ 400,000, an amount determined by Borges using a sales comparison approach that assessed the sale of three comparable properties near the property in question.
However, the DuSablons argued that their evaluation was the result of bias as they had to turn to the examiner for years to correct mistakes on the property card. that no improvements have been made to their property to justify an increase in the rating; and that when the PTABOA reduced its rating, much of the form used was, among other things, incomplete.
In a final decision, the Indiana Board upheld the assessor's assessment after determining that they used a generally accepted valuation method and that the DuSablons did not provide evidence of what they believed their property should be properly valued.
The Indiana Tax Court upheld the final finding in Mathew R. DuSablon and Vanessa A. DuSablon v. Katie Kaufman in her official capacity as Jackson County Assessor, 20T-TA-4, ruling that the DuSablons did not show the assessment of $ 364,300 was inappropriate.
First, the tax court ruled that the DuSablons' claim that Borges was biased and therefore not believable "remained a mere accusation". It also concluded that the couple was unable to demonstrate that the Indiana Board acted against the logic of the facts and circumstances before them in concluding that Borges was a credible witness.
Additionally, the DuSablons failed to show the court that the Indiana Board had broken the law when it found Borges to be a credible witness. In fact, they have not pointed to any law or authoritative source to support their claim that Borges is forbidden to evaluate or testify of their property. … This failure is fatal to their claim, ”wrote Senior Judge Thomas G. Fisher.
Fisher also argued that the DuSablons did not successfully discredit Borges' evaluation report, noting that the DuSablons did not show that Borges was wrong. Rather, the tax court said they had shown that they either largely did not understand his review descriptions or simply did not agree with them.
Second, Fisher concluded that the DuSablons did not prove they discredited Borges' valuation report just for describing or listing their property. Nor did the judge find DuSablons 'argument that they successfully discredited Borges' valuation report convincing by showing that the properties he relied on in his sales comparison approach were not actually comparable to their properties.
Eventually, the tax court found that, as evidenced by the certified administrative records, the DuSablons were able to prove that four residential properties – three in their parish and one in a neighboring parish – were valued and taxed at a lower percentage of market value -exchange than their property .
"While this evidence is undoubtedly relevant, the Indiana Board has not unfairly found that these four properties were insufficient to demonstrate that the DuSablons property was valued and taxed at a level above that of their community as a whole "wrote Fisher.
"The court believes that the DuSablons are frustrated with the way the property tax system has worked and that they believe their complaints have fallen on deaf ears," he concluded. "Still, they haven't shown that their estimate of $ 364,300 was inappropriate."