Daugherty v. Benton Cnty. Assessor, 21T-TA-00026

Citation21T-TA-00026
Case DateMarch 30, 2022
CourtTax Court of Indiana

MICHAEL DAUGHERTY, Petitioner,
v.

BENTON COUNTY ASSESSOR, KELLY BALENSIEFER, Respondent.

No. 21T-TA-00026

Tax Court of Indiana

March 30, 2022


ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW

PETITIONER APPEARING PRO SE:

MICHAEL DAUGHERTY

Evansville, IN

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:

MARILYN S. MEIGHEN

ATTORNEY AT LAW

Carmel, IN

BRIAN A. CUSIMANO

ATTORNEY AT LAW

Indianapolis, IN

WENTWORTH, J.

Michael Daugherty challenges the Indiana Board of Tax Review's final determination denying his assessment appeal for the 2020 tax year. Upon review, the Court affirms the Indiana Board's final determination.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In March of 2020, Michael Daugherty, as President/Owner of Daugherty Real Estate Holdings, LLC, initiated an appeal with the Assessor challenging the assessed

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value of his company's racetrack property located in Boswell, Indiana. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 12-17.) While the property was assessed at $457, 900 ($393, 000 for land and $64, 900 for improvements), Daugherty asserted that "[t]he per acre value of [the] land is way high [] compared to other land [in the county]." (Cert. Admin. R. at 13.)

Upon review, the Benton County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals ("PTABOA") reduced Daugherty's land assessment to $315, 200. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 3-5, 29.) Still dissatisfied, Daugherty sought relief with the Indiana Board on August 20, 2020. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 1-5.)

On September 28, 2020, the Indiana Board notified both Daugherty and the Assessor that due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Governor Holcomb, it would be conducting its hearing on the matter telephonically and scheduled it for November 19, 2020. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 8, 10.) The Indiana Board also instructed the parties to exchange and submit any evidence they intended to offer during the hearing prior to the hearing via mail or email. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 10.) Both parties submitted evidence electronically, the Assessor on November 2, 2020, and Daugherty seven days later. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 9, 12-36.)

On November 17, 2020, the Assessor requested that the hearing be rescheduled. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 37.) Although Daugherty objected to the request, the Indiana Board granted it and rescheduled the telephonic hearing for 9:00 a.m. on January 5, 2021. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 38-40.)

On the morning of the hearing, the Assessor sent an email to both the Indiana Board and Daugherty, attaching evidence she intended to use in her rebuttal presentation and stating that she "look[ed] forward to our meeting at 9 am." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 41.)

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But when the Indiana Board initiated its telephonic hearing at that designated time, Daugherty never called in.[1] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 65 ¶ 3 (indicating that the Indiana Board and the Assessor waited for Daugherty until 9:25 a.m. to no avail).)

On January 11, 2021, the Indiana Board issued a notice to Daugherty indicating that because he failed to appear for the hearing, it would be dismissing his appeal unless he could show "just cause." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 64.) In response, Daugherty claimed that he never received notice that the hearing had been rescheduled for January 5; as a result, the Indiana Board issued another notice to both Daugherty and the Assessor rescheduling the telephonic hearing for May 4, 2021. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 69-70.) On both March 23 and April 20, 2021, Daugherty electronically submitted additional documentation he intended to offer as evidence during the hearing. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 71-79.)

On May 4, 2021, the Indiana Board initiated its telephonic hearing but Daugherty again failed to call in. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 80, 81 ¶ 3 (indicating that the Indiana Board and the Assessor waited for twenty minutes for Daugherty before ending the hearing).) On May 10, 2021, the Indiana Board issued another notice to Daugherty indicating that because he again failed to appear for the hearing, it would be dismissing his appeal unless he could show "just cause." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 80.) On June 2, 2021, the Indiana Board received the following response from Daugherty: "I apologize [for not appearing at the hearing], I was unable to file a continuance request due to a last minute doctor[']s appointment regarding surgery for my mother[.]" (Cert. Admin. R. at 84.)

On June 8, 2021, the Indiana Board issued a final determination denying

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Daugherty's appeal. (Cert. Admin. R. at 85-88.) In its final determination, the Indiana Board stated:

The Board will not make the case for a petitioner. The Board bases its decision on the evidence presented and the issues raised during the hearing. . . . The [appeal] is denied because [Daugherty] failed to call in to the hearing and [therefore] failed to offer any evidence or argument into the record in support of [his] case. There will be no change to the 2020 assessment of the subject property.

(Cert. Admin. R. at 87 ¶¶ 8-9 (internal citation and footnote omitted).) The Indiana Board subsequently received a rehearing request from Daugherty that it promptly denied. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 90-91.)

On July 20, 2021, Daugherty initiated an original tax appeal....

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