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Teller County, Colorado
Courtesy of Your Neighborhood Realty, Inc. Map Save Unsave View Details. Courtesy of Progressive Property Group Llc. Courtesy of Mb-Hasz Real Estate. Courtesy of Skyline Properties, Inc. Courtesy of Nexthome Pikes Peak Realty. Courtesy of Coldwell Banker 1st Choice Rlt. Majestic Great W. Savings, 30 Colo. In Majestic Great West Savings, the court of appeals recognized that, while the taxpayer no longer had the burden of proving that an assessment was manifestly excessive, fraudulent, or oppressive, section did not supply an alternative burden of proof.
However, there still existed a rebuttable presumption that the assessment was correct. In the absence of a statutorily-supplied burden of proof, Majestic suggested a burden of proof corresponding to the presumption that an assessment is correct. As noted above, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence was the degree of proof to overcome the presumption that an assessment was correct.
Majestic, 30 Colo. The court of appeals agreed with the trial court that, under this standard, the taxpayer was entitled to a redetermination of the subject property's value because the assessor failed to comply with the statute.
In , the standard of proof changed from clear and convincing evidence to preponderance of the evidence pursuant to the enactment of section , 12 C. Thereafter, courts explicitly adopted the burden of proof implied in Majestic-that the taxpayer had the burden of proving the assessment was incorrect-but without explaining its relationship to the presumption. For example, the court in Honeywell Information Systems, P. See also A. Staack P'ship v. We recently stated in Podoll, P. However, these formulations of the burden of proof in relation to the presumption do not alter our conclusion that the burden is to show incorrectness.
Thus, the relevance of the presumption is limited to its historical relationship to the taxpayer's burden of proof. That is, because these cases do not distinguish between the burden to overcome the presumption and the taxpayer's burden of proof, the presumption's relevance is limited to explaining the evolution of the burden of proof.
Notwithstanding the long line of cases establishing that the taxpayer has the burden of proving the assessment is incorrect, the BOE contends this burden is inconsistent with the statutory scheme governing property tax assessments. Specifically, the BOE argues that only establishing the assessment is incorrect stops short of establishing value, the goal of a BAA proceeding.
Therefore, it maintains the court of appeals correctly concluded that a taxpayer must prove an appropriate basis for an alternative reduced valuation. The court of appeals concluded the BAA's reinstatement of the initial valuation was unsupported by competent evidence because the BAA was unable to reach an accurate valuation determination from the evidence presented. The BAA further ruled that it did not receive enough data from the parties to derive any accurate valuation. Further, the BAA's valuation must comply with the statute. Therefore, for the BAA to adopt the taxpayer's valuation, it must find that the taxpayer's valuation complied with statutory guidelines.
The court of appeals' resolution implies, then, that the taxpayer must prove an alternative valuation that complies with the statute and allows the BAA to determine an accurate value. Case law, however, has not required the taxpayer to prove an alternative valuation that complies with statutory requirements. Routt County Board of Equalization, 23 P. The BAA rejected the taxpayer's income approach as too subjective, but nevertheless reduced the county's assessment by selecting a comparable sale presented, but not relied exclusively on, by the BOE.
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As noted above, in South Cherry Joint Venture, the court of appeals determined that the assessor and BAA failed to comply with the statute. As a result, it remanded to the BOE for new proceedings and entry of a new assessment.
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Implicit in this remedy is the conclusion that the taxpayer met his burden of proof, despite insufficient evidence to value the property under the applicable statute, and that the BAA therefore had the authority to order a new determination. Likewise, in Sunbelt Service Corp.
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As a result, the court of appeals remanded to the BAA with authority to take additional evidence if necessary in the event that the taxpayer did not introduce evidence from which the BAA could determine value. Further, taxpayer protest cases consistently turn on whether the taxpayer established that the county assessor or BAA failed to comply with the statutory mandate, rather than whether the taxpayer also established an appropriate basis for an alternative valuation.
The court in Resolution Trust Corp. Consistent with Resolution Trust Corp. In this regard, a taxpayer is entitled to relief by demonstrating that the classification is incorrect.
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On this showing, the BAA has the authority to order reclassification, which ultimately requires reassessment by the county. See Gyurman, P. Or, a taxpayer may prevail by demonstrating that the assessor failed to consider all elements of applicable approaches to appraisal. See Transamerican Realty Corp. Clifton, P. A taxpayer may also prevail where the assessor failed to properly consider a factor relevant to valuation. See Cherne v. Finally, a taxpayer may show that an assessment is incorrect where, as here, the county failed to take into account relevant differences in the physical characteristics of comparable properties.
See generally Golden Gate Dvlpmt. Thus, relief is available regardless of whether the taxpayer provides an appropriate valuation so long as the taxpayer demonstrates that the assessment is incorrect. To the extent the BOE also argues that the effect of article X, section 20 is to require the taxpayer to demonstrate an alternative valuation, we disagree. Article X, section 20 eliminates the presumption favoring a pending valuation in property tax appeals.
We agree with the court of appeals that article X, section 20 does not likewise address or modify the taxpayer's burden of proof at a BAA proceeding. We view the presumption as otherwise irrelevant to this case. By eliminating the presumption of correctness, article X, section 20 attempts to put the taxpayer on equal footing with the county. Under the BOE's approach, article X, section 20 would have the effect of changing the burden of proof from demonstrating incorrectness to demonstrating an alternative valuation, thereby imposing on the taxpayer a higher burden of proof.
The taxpayer who demonstrated incorrectness but failed to produce an alternative valuation would be taxed based on the incorrect valuation as a result of the presumption's elimination under article X, section We discern no reason to interpret article X, section 20 as having the unintended effect of increasing the taxpayer's burden of proof by requiring the taxpayer to demonstrate an alternative valuation.
Rather, the elimination of the presumption comports with the rule that a taxpayer must demonstrate that an assessment is incorrect. The BOE also argues that this result is inconsistent with appellate procedures because it would allow the taxpayer to undercut the BOE's valuation decision before the BOE has introduced any valuation evidence for the taxpayer to refute. We disagree. The taxpayer has long had the burden of disproving the assessment without the BOE introducing valuation evidence. In this regard, a taxpayer has always had the option of introducing a county's assessment to provide the board with a context or to draw comparisons between the county's assessment and the statutory requirements.
As noted above, a taxpayer may request the assessor's data. There is no reason this evidence could not be presented in taxpayer's case-in-chief under the current statutory scheme. Further, the county's assessment may be admitted into evidence somewhat informally, as it was in this case, since it is known to all parties, readily available, and central to the hearing. Therefore, we do not agree with the BOE that the burden of proof announced here conflicts with appellate procedures generally. Given our conclusion that the taxpayer's burden is to prove incorrectness, we recognize that the objective of determining a property's value will not always be accomplished at a BAA hearing.
While the BAA members' expertise enables them to determine from the evidence presented by the taxpayer whether the county's valuation is incorrect, the taxpayer's evidence may or may not be sufficient to further establish the subject property's value for tax purposes. Thus, the BAA may properly remand the matter for an accurate assessment by the county, which is charged with the duty of assessing properties in accordance with the statutory mandate in the first instance. While the burden of proving incorrectness may sometimes result in a hearing where value cannot be determined, the burden of proving incorrectness is consistent with and better serves state constitutional requirements.
Permitting a demonstrably incorrect assessment to stand merely because a value could not be determined at the BAA proceeding would be entirely contrary to the broader constitutional goal of determining actual value and promoting equalized value. It is for this very reason that remand to the BAA or BOE may be appropriate where necessary to determine an accurate value. Hence, consistent with our case law, a taxpayer who meets the burden of demonstrating that an assessment is incorrect need not also show an alternative valuation under the market approach to prevail.
Thus, we conclude a protesting taxpayer may prevail at a de novo BAA proceeding by demonstrating that an assessment is incorrect. Accordingly, we hold the court of appeals erred in determining that a taxpayer in a BAA proceeding must demonstrate an alternative, reduced valuation of actual value under the market approach.
It is the function of the BAA, not the reviewing court, to weigh the evidence and resolve any conflicts. A decision of the Board may be set aside only if it is unsupported by competent evidence or if it reflects a failure to abide by the statutory scheme for calculating property tax assessments. The BAA specifically found, with record support, that the assessor did not use appropriate comparable sales. Sampson's home is located on a privately maintained road while the comparable sales used by the BOE were newer and approximately 25 miles away.
In addition, the BAA found that there is a basis for differences in value for mobile homes situated on permanent foundations and mobile homes situated on non-permanent cinder block foundations like Sampson's. Given the BAA's expertise, it could conclude based on the evidence that a permanent foundation increases the value of a mobile home and conclude that the assessor's office failed to comply with its statutory mandate by failing to address all factors affecting the valuations for mobile homes of this type.
We agree, and therefore reject the court of appeals' conclusion that Sampson did not meet his burden of proof in the BAA proceeding. The BAA also found that Sampson did not present comparable sales to support an alternative evaluation. It concluded that any adjustment made to the BOE's sales for factors affecting the value would be inaccurate.
As a result, it was presented with insufficient data to derive adjustment calculations. Therefore, the BAA used the initial valuation of the assessor, which was not contested by Sampson. Where the taxpayer satisfies his burden of proving the assessment incorrect, but does not present an alternative evaluation, the proper remedy is to remand for a new assessment. Nonetheless, it is appropriate to reinstate a previous evaluation, and the resulting assessment, if the parties agree that a previous evaluation is acceptable.
Although Sampson did not oppose the initial assessment, it is not clear from the record before us whether the BOE agrees that the initial valuation is acceptable. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand with directions to conduct further proceedings consistent with this opinion. We were not presented with the issue of whether or how article X, section 20, affected the presumption favoring official regularity. Thus, we merely stated the rule without regard to article X, section By submitting this form, you agree to FindLaw.
We respect your privacy. Thank you for subscribing! Explore Resources For Practice Management. Legal Technology. Corporate Counsel. Reset A A Font size: Print. Supreme Court of Colorado. Hess, Colorado Springs, for Respondents. Facts and Proceedings Taxpayer, Richard F.