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Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc. v. Carroll County Board of Review

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 2, 2013

HY-VEE FOOD STORES, INC., and DAVIS-HV, L.L.C., Plaintiff-Appellants,
v.
CARROLL COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW, Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Thomas J. Bice, Judge.

Hy-Vee Foods Stores, Inc. and Davis-HV, LLC challenge a property tax assessment.

Douglas R. Oelschlaeger and Drew Cumings-Peterson for Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellants.

John C. Werden, Carroll County Attorney, for appellee.

Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle, J., and Goodhue, S.J. [*]

VAITHESWARAN, P.J.

This appeal raises a challenge to a property tax assessment.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Hy-Vee Foods Stores, Inc. and Davis-HV, LLC (Hy-Vee) operate a grocery store in Carroll, Iowa. Hy-Vee challenged the Carroll County Assessor's 2011 tax assessment valuing the property at $2, 500, 000. Pursuant to a state equalization order, that value was increased to $2, 650, 000. See Iowa Code § 441.47 (2011). Hy-Vee appealed the assessment to the Carroll County Board of Review. The board left the assessment intact, concluding the "[t]axpayer failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the allegations contained in the protest."

Hy-Vee appealed again to the district court. See id. § 441.38. After taking additional evidence as statutorily authorized, the court reduced the assessed value to $2, 450, 000. This appeal followed.

II. Analysis

On appeal, Hy-Vee contends the district court should have reduced the assessed value of the property to $1, 500, 000. Our review of this issue is de novo. See Compiano v. Bd. of Review, 771 N.W.2d 392, 395 (Iowa 2009).

Before reaching the merits, we will address a board argument concerning the burden of proof. Generally, the burden is on the taxpayer to prove one of the statutory grounds for protest by a preponderance of the evidence. Iowa Code § 441.21(3); Compiano, 771 N.W.2d at 396. However, if the taxpayer

offers competent evidence by at least two disinterested witnesses that the market value of the property is less than the market value determined by the assessor, the burden of proof thereafter shall be upon the officials or person seeking to ...

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