News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 19, 2013

Assessment appeal deadline is today

Officials urge taxpayers to include evidence to support case

TERRE HAUTE — Today is your last day to file an appeal of your most recent Vigo County property tax assessment at the Vigo County Assessor’s office.  The deadline is 4 p.m.

Hundreds of appeals have been filed since tax assessment statements were mailed out to property owners a month and a half ago, Vigo County Assessor Debbie Lewis said.

To expedite appeals, tax officials urge taxpayers to include evidence to support their case — such as sale of the property in question, sales of comparable properties, listing prices, offers to purchase or an appraisal prepared by a licensed appraiser.

After an appeal is filed, the next step is an informal meeting between assessing officials and the taxpayer to resolve as many issues as possible, according to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. Within 10 days of that meeting, assessing officials must forward the appeal to the local, three-person, Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals to handle any unresolved matters.

That appeals board must hold a hearing, according to the state, within 180 days of the filing of the appeal. Taxpayers must receive at least 30 days notice of the hearing date and the appeals board must render a decision within 120 days of the hearing.

If an appeal has not been heard by the local board within 180 days or no decision has been rendered by that board within 120 days of the hearing, the taxpayer can appeal directly to the Indiana Board of Tax Review in Indianapolis, a three-member body that is appointed by the governor.

Taxpayers also can appeal decisions of the local appeals board to the tax review board. Such appeals must take place within 45 days of the local appeal board’s decision.

The tax review board must hold a hearing on appeals it receives within nine months of receipt, unless during a general reassessment year. That board has 90 days to issue a decision after a hearing. A taxpayer can also request a second hearing before that board if the request is filed within 15 days of the original decision. Or the taxpayer can appeal, within 45 days of the IBTR decision, to the Indiana Tax Court. Finally, tax court decisions can be appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which can reject or hear a case at its discretion.

The burden of proof in a property tax assessment lies with the local assessing officials when an assessment has increased more than 5 percent over the preceding assessment date, according to the Department of Local Government Finance. When asked to explain what this means in practice, a department official simply provided the Tribune-Star with text from Indiana law stating the same thing – the burden of proof lies with local officials if an assessment has increased more than 5 percent.

IBTR members were unavailable for comment Monday afternoon to elaborate on this or to comment on the number of appeals that find their way to the state each year.

Finally, if you have filed an appeal, you may pay only the amount of taxes based on the immediately preceding year’s assessment pending a final ruling without penalty, according to the DLGF. You must at least pay that amount by the due date to avoid being considered delinquent.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@trib

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