Bartlett v. Dawes Cty. Bd. of Equal – Case Brief Summary (Nebraska)

In Bartlett v. Dawes Cty. Bd. of Equal., 259 Neb. 954, 613 N.W.2d 810 (2000), the Dawes County assessor had divided the county into four agricultural "market areas" for property tax purposes.

The boundaries for each market area were based upon where assessment-to-sales ratios for various land sales fell on the county map. The boundaries were drawn along township or half-township lines; however, the market areas were not consistent with the soil classifications depicted on the soil map of Dawes County, and the assessor admitted that the township lines did not follow soil classifications.

The board of equalization argued that the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) correctly found that the establishment of market areas is a professionally recognized method of mass appraisal under § 77-112, which provides:

Actual value of real property for purposes of taxation shall mean the market value of real property in the ordinary course of trade. Actual value may be determined using professionally accepted mass appraisal methods, including, but not limited to, the (1) sales comparison approach, taking into account factors such as location, zoning, and current functional use, (2) income approach, and (3) cost approach.

While the Supreme Court in Bartlett assumed without deciding that market area analysis is a professionally accepted mass appraisal method for establishing actual value, it rejected the use of market values in that case as violative of the statutory scheme set out by the Legislature.