Authorizes use of bankruptcy sales in sales comparison approach to value in calculating obsolescence

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The Lake County Assessor, the Calumet Township Assessor, and the Lake County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) (collectively, Lake County) appeal the final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) valuing United States Steel Corporation’s (US Steel) real property as of the March 1, 2001 assessment date.

On appeal, Lake County presents several issues for the Court to decide. The Court restates those issues as:

I. Whether the Indiana Board erred when it admitted US Steel’s Excess Cost Report under Calculation #1-B because it was not “scientifically reliable”;
II. Whether the Indiana Board erred when it failed to discount US Steel’s total functional obsolescence award by $23,112, 230;
III. Whether the Indiana Board erred when it failed to find that Calculation #2 was invalid because it utilized bankruptcy sales in its sales comparison approach;
IV. Whether the Indiana Board erred when it held that US Steel was entitled to an obsolescence adjustment at all, given the result of Calculation #1-C; and
V. Whether the Indiana Board erred in reducing the assessed value of US Steel’s land.

Conclusion (slip op. at 18):  The Indiana Board’s final determination with respect to Issues I, III, and IV are affirmed. The Indiana Board’s final determination with respect to Issues II and V, however, are reversed. The matter is remanded to the Indiana Board to make adjustments to US Steel’s 2001 real property assessment consistent with this opinion. 
Key Analysis (slip op. at 7, 8, 12-13):  Time and time again, over the course of the last ten years, this Court has explained that generally recognized appraisal techniques are acceptable methods by which to quantify obsolescence in Indiana’s pre-2002 assessment system . . . The Court has held that the method utilized by US Steel in its Report is a generally recognized appraisal technique for calculating functional obsolescence . . . Many jurisdictions ascribe to the theory that bankruptcy sales can be reliable indicators of property value . . . Lake County’s blanket assertion that the bankruptcy sales cannot be used as comparables goes to the weight of US Steel’s evidence, not its admissibility. As such, Lake County’s assertion is without merit.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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