Sunday, September 23, 2018

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Ronald Long vs. Greenwood County Auditor

Greenwood County Auditor

Ronald Long

Greenwood County Auditor

Ronald Long, pro se for Petitioner

R. Brann Lowther (Auditor), pro se for Respondent




This matter comes before the South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division ("Division") upon the request of Ronald Long ("Petitioner"), pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 12-60-2540 (Supp. 1997). Petitioner filed a request for contested case hearing appealing the valuation assessed on his personal vehicle by the Greenwood County Auditor ("Respondent").

After notice to the parties, a hearing was conducted on February 5, 1999, in Greenwood, South Carolina. Any issues raised in the proceedings or hearing of this case but not addressed in this Order are deemed denied pursuant to ALJD Rule 29(C).


I make the following Findings of Fact, taking into account the burden on the parties to establish their respective cases by preponderance of the evidence and taking into consideration the credibility of the witnesses:

1. Petitioner, Ronald Long, resides in Greenwood, South Carolina.

2. On April 2, 1998, Petitioner purchased a 1998 Toyota Camry LE, four-door, sedan with automatic transmission (Vehicle Identification No.: 4TBG22K4WV310096), for the sales price of $21,820.

3. In preparation of the sale, Petitioner consulted and relied upon information from the Internet Edmund's Guide for determining vehicle prices for a 1998 Toyota Camry LE, four-door, sedan with automatic transmission. Edmund's listed the invoice price of the Camry LE as $17,699 and the manufacturer's suggested retail price of $20,218.

4. Petitioner further consulted and relied upon the Kelley Blue Book Company information from the Internet to determine the appropriate trade value for his 1994 Pontiac Grand Prix SE four-door sedan. Kelley's listed the value of the Grand Prix at $6,020.

5. The trade value of the Grand Prix listed on the on the purchase invoice of the Toyota Camry LE was $9,128. According to Petitioner, the difference of $3,000 between the invoice and the Kelley Blue Book reflects the difference in value between the dealer invoice price and the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the Toyota Camry.

6. In July 1998, Petitioner received a tax notice from the Greenwood County Auditor's office. The market value for his Toyota Camry LE was assessed as $20,190.

7. Petitioner filed an Appeal Form, and listed the estimated market value of the Toyota Camry LE as $16,500. In making this determination, Petitioner relied upon an appraisal received from George Ballentine Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, Inc., where the vehicle was purchased.

8. In determining the value for the Toyota Camry LE, the Auditor relied upon the Personal Property Assessment Guide ("Guide") issued by the South Carolina Department of Revenue ("DOR").

9. DOR's Guide provided for a 1998 auto vehicle assessment of a Toyota Camry LE, four-door sedan, with automatic transmission as $21,020. The Auditor calculated the formula as provided by DOR and determined $20,190 as the market value and the value upon which the taxes would be based.

10. Petitioner provided evidence demonstrating that the Auditor deviated from the Guide in appraising a 1997 Toyota Camry LE for the tax year 1998. That automobile was a year old at the time of the appraisal, and was appraised by the same George Ballentine Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, Inc. as $15,000 instead of the value assessed by DOR as $16,500. The Auditor deviated from the value because of the age of the automobile and the appraised value was very close to the assessed value.

11. The Auditor refused to deviate from the assessed value of Petitioner's vehicle. Since Petitioner paid $21,820 for the Toyota Camry LE two months earlier, the appraised value of $16,500 submitted on appeal, was entirely too low. The Auditor determined that the value set by DOR, which is $1630 less than the purchase price, adequately reflects the true value of the automobile and takes into consideration any depreciation.


Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact, I conclude, as a matter of law:

1. The South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Division has jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 12-60-2540(A) (Supp. 1998).

2. The fair market value is the measure of true value for taxation purposes. Lindsey vs. S.C. Tax Comm'n, 302 S.C. 504, 397 S.E.2d 95 (1990).

3. A taxpayer contesting an assessment has the burden of showing that the valuation of the taxing authority is incorrect. Cloyd v. Mabry, 295 S.C. 86, 367 S.E.2d 171 (Ct. App. 1988).

4. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-37-2680 (Supp. 1998) requires that the assessed value of a vehicle "must be published in guides or manuals by the S.C. Department of Revenue and provided to the auditor of each county is often as may be necessary to provide for current values."

5. S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 117-119, promulgated by the Department of Revenue, "declares the use of assessment guides to be mandatory with respect to their use by county auditors for assessment of personal property such as automobiles...."

6. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. Regulation 117-119.1, Auditor has the authority to deviate from the assessment provided in the Guide in "unusual and extenuating circumstances." These circumstances would be present when for example, an automobile is involved in an accident, and incurs property damage or an automobile has high mileage.

7. Pursuant to the Regulations there was no basis for the Auditor to deviate from the Guide.

8. The Respondent's valuation of $20,190 is reasonable for Petitioner's 1998 Toyota Camry LE (Vehicle Identification No.: 4TBG22K4WV310096).

9. Respondent's valuation was properly done in accordance with the South Carolina Department of Revenue's Personal Property Assessment Guide, and the Greenwood County Auditor's Policies/Procedures.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that $20,190, as assessed by the Greenwood County Auditor, is the appropriate value for Petitioner's 1998 Toyota Camry LE, four-door, sedan with automatic transmission (Vehicle Identification No.: 4TBG22K4WV310096) for tax year 1998.



Administrative Law Judge

February 22, 1999

Columbia, South Carolina.