CLIENT

Our client is a significant participant in the US retail industry, operating a network of physical stores and digital platforms. They provide a broad spectrum of products and services, encompassing food and non-food items, jewelry, private label manufacturing, fuel centers, and pharmacies.

CHALLENGE

The company faced a challenge with its recent property tax assessment for a store location in Nebraska. The local Board of Equalization, using a computer-aided mass appraisal (CAMA) system and market adjustments, had set the property value much higher than the client’s own valuation for the two years in question.

This discrepancy could have resulted in the company paying significantly more in property taxes than it believed was justified, effectively misdirecting its financial resources and negatively impacting financial planning. The challenge was to convince the authorities that the mass appraisal system was not the best approach, given the lack of sales of comparable properties in the market.

CASE SNAPSHOT

YEAR  ASSESSED VALUE BEFORE APPEAL  ASSESSED VALUE AFTER APPEAL  ASSESSED VALUE REDUCTION  
Year 1  $4,466,495  $2,400,000  46% ($2.1M) 
Year 2  $4,722,962  $2,200,000  53% ($2.5M)  

SOLUTION

DMA leveraged its jurisdictional expertise to guide our client in their defense. We appealed the assessment, arguing against the use of the mass appraisal system.

When the Board declined to adjust the assessment, DMA recommended the client elevate the appeal to the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) and obtain an independent third-party appraisal that conforms to Nebraska law. This appraisal used the three methods provided by Nebraska law:

  • Cost approach
  • Sales comparison approach
  • Income capitalization approach

DMA assisted our client throughout the entire process, representing them at the lower administrative levels, and then serving as property tax consulting experts to the legal counsel engaged for judicial levels of the process.

RESULT

TERC found that the appraisal was competent evidence to rebut the presumption that the Board faithfully performed its duties and had sufficient evidence to make its determination. TERC also found clear and convincing evidence that the Board’s decision was arbitrary or unreasonable, as it was made in disregard of the facts and circumstances and without some basis that would lead a reasonable person to the same conclusion.

The Board did not accept TERC’s decision and appealed TERC’s order to the Nebraska Court of Appeals. Despite this challenge, the Court of Appeals affirmed TERC’s decision. This affirmation validated DMA’s advice that a competent, fee simple valuation should prevail over the mass appraisal methods employed by the county Assessor.

Following this, TERC proceeded with the adjustments to the property values for the two tax years in question, resulting in significant reductions. The value for the first year was reduced by 46%, and the value for the second year was reduced by 53%—which amounted to a reduction of over $2M for each year.
Going forward, this case sets a precedent that can be employed across all types of commercial real estate in Nebraska.

WHY DMA

The technical precision, senior-level experience, and jurisdictional knowledge of our property tax consultants were instrumental in guiding our client through the appeal process and achieving a favorable outcome. Our commitment to client success ensured that we represented the company professionally at all levels of the process and provided expert advice that prevailed over the mass appraisal methods employed by the county Assessor.

Nebraska Property Tax Expertise

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