Kooshtard Property I, LLC v. Monroe County Assessor, Pet. No. 53-017-16-1-4-01891-16, et al. (Ind. Bd. Tax Rev. July 30, 2018)

Taxpayer appealed assessment years 2016 and 2017 to the Indiana Board, which scheduled a hearing for April 30, 2018. Shortly before the hearing date, Taxpayer learned that the Assessor intended to present an appraisal conducted by a commercial appraiser, and based on said appraisal, intended to seek higher values than the assessed values under appeal. Settlement negotiations ensued, but were unsuccessful. On April 26, Taxpayer’s representative sought to withdraw the appeal petitions, and the Assessor objected to such withdrawal. The Assessor pointed out that substantial expenses had been incurred in obtaining the appraisal of Taxpayer’s property, and asserted that under the circumstances, the Taxpayer should not be allowed to withdraw from the case, citing Joyce Sportswear Co. v. State Bd. Of Tax Comm’rs, 684 N.E.2d 1189 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1997). In Joyce, a case had proceeded through two hearings before the State Board of Tax Commissioners (State Board), and subsequently the State Board’s hearing officer had advised the Taxpayer that she intended to propose an increase in assessment. At this late point in the proceedings, the Taxpayer sought to withdraw from the case. The Tax Court in Joyce found that allowing the taxpayer to withdraw as a matter of right at such an advanced stage in the proceedings would have caused a substantial waste of time and effort. The Indiana Board reached the same conclusion as did the Tax Court in Joyce. The Indiana Board noted that the Assessor had not presented any evidence as to whether it had incurred a substantial expense in preparing its case, but noted that such expenses would be typical where an Assessor hired an outside appraiser to prepare a report. In light of the lateness of the attempt to withdraw, and the expense incurred by the Assessor, the Indiana Board disallowed the Taxpayer’s withdrawal. The Board went on to analyze the evidence from the hearing, finding the Assessor’s evidence probative and finding further that the Taxpayer had failed to make a case for reducing the assessments. Accordingly, the Indiana Board ordered that the property assessments be increased to the values presented by the Assessor.