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Lannie v. Board of County Commissioners of Eagle County.

2020 COA 77. No. 17CA1971. Taxation—Residential Land—Property Tax— Undeveloped Parcel.

May 7, 2020

Lannie and his wife own two contiguous parcels of land in Eagle County. One parcel has a home on it (the residential parcel) and the other is undeveloped (the subject parcel). For tax years 2014 and 2015, Lannie held title to the subject parcel solely in his name, while he and his wife held title to the residential parcel as joint tenants. Before the valuation for tax year 2016, Lannie conveyed the subject parcel to himself and his wife as joint tenants. The county assessor classified the subject parcel as vacant land. The Lannies appealed the classification for the 2014 and 2015 tax years to the Board of County Commissioners of Eagle County and the classification for 2016 to the Board of Equalization of Eagle County (collectively, the County). The County upheld the assessor’s classification. The Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) concluded that the subject parcel was not used as a unit in conjunction with the improvements on the residential parcel for any of the tax years in question, and for tax years 2014 and 2015, the parcels were not under common ownership. Accordingly, the BAA upheld the County’s rulings.

On appeal, the Lannies argued that the BAA erred in failing to reclassify the subject parcel as residential for property tax purposes. For vacant land to be reclassified as residential land, a taxpayer must show that (1) the vacant parcel is contiguous with the residential parcel, (2) the parcels are under common ownership, and (3) the parcels are used as a unit. Common ownership requires identical record title owners, which means that the taxpayer for each parcel must be identical. Because the two parcels were not under common ownership for tax years 2014 and 2015, the BAA did not err in denying reclassification for those years. As to tax year 2016, while the parcels were under common ownership in that year, it is not clear whether the BAA assessed the testimony under the proper standard for “used as a unit” announced in Mook v. Board of County Commissioners, 2020 CO 12.

The order denying reclassification for the 2014 and 2015 tax years was affirmed. The order denying reclassification for the 2016 tax year was reversed and the case was remanded to the BAA for reconsideration in accordance with this opinion.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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