Submitted January 23, 2018
from the Board of Tax Appeals, No. 2015-423.
Gibbs Firm, L.P.A., Ryan J. Gibbs, and Geoffrey N. Byrne, for
& Gillis Law Group, L.L.C., Mark H. Gillis, and Karol C.
Fox, for appellee Board of Education of the South-Western
City School District.
1} In this real-property-valuation case involving
tax year 2012, appellant, Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon
of Ohio, Inc. ("Lone Star"), sought a reduction in
the valuation of a property it once owned based on the
property's sale price. Appellee Franklin County Board of
Revision ("the BOR") rejected the sale price as the
criterion of value and instead retained the county
auditor's valuation. On appeal, the Board of Tax Appeals
("BTA") adopted the BOR's valuation, finding
that the sale was too remote in relation to the tax-lien
date. We conclude that the BTA misapplied our precedent in
determining that the sale was too remote. We accordingly
reverse the BTA's decision and remand the case with
instructions that the BTA use the sale price to value the
property for tax year 2012.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2} The subject property consists of a 5,
344-square-foot restaurant located on a 1.71-acre parcel. For
tax year 2012, the Franklin County auditor valued the
property at $1, 250, 000. Lone Star filed a complaint seeking
a reduction of this valuation to $750, 000, and appellee
Board of Education of the SouthWestern City School District
("the BOE") responded with a countercomplaint
urging retention of the auditor's valuation.
3} At the BOR hearing, Lone Star's counsel
presented three documents in support of the complaint. First,
he presented a warranty deed memorializing a transfer of the
property from Lone Star to J.M. Mendez, Inc. The deed's
effective date is listed as December 31, 2013, but stamps
marked on the deed by the auditor's and recorder's
offices are dated January 21, 2014. Second, he presented a
conveyance-fee statement listing the consideration as $700,
000. The statement was signed on behalf of J.M. Mendez, Inc.,
on December 31, 2013, but it bears an auditor's stamp of
January 21, 2014. Third, he presented an
escrow-trust-disbursement statement showing a purchase price
of $700, 000 and a disbursement date of December 31, 2013.
After furnishing these three documents, Lone Star's
counsel insisted that the property should be valued based on
the sale price of $700, 000. Lone Star's counsel did not
call any witnesses to testify on its behalf.
4} In response to questioning from the BOE, Lone
Star's counsel stated that he did not represent Lone Star
during the sale of the property and did not have personal
knowledge about how the property had been marketed or sold.
The BOE then argued that the BOR should not rely on the sale
price, because no one with personal knowledge about the sale
had appeared to testify.
5} The BOR retained the county auditor's
valuation of $1, 250, 000. The BOR remarked during its
deliberations that Lone Star's evidence did not justify a
reduction, because no witness had appeared to testify about
6} Lone Star appealed to the BTA but waived its
appearance at the hearing. The BOE appeared but did not
present evidence; instead, it argued that the BTA should
disregard Lone Star's evidence because no one with
personal knowledge of the sale had appeared before the BOR to
testify. The BOE also asserted that ...