County Loses on Its Claim That Tract is Commercial For Property Tax Purposes.

This case involved a 70-acre wooded tract that the owner purchased at a time when the buildings on the property were in disrepair.  After acquiring the tract, the owner built and enclosure for raising ducks, and repaired a barn for purposes of storing a tractor.  The owner also, in the fall of 2011, entered into a farm lease with a tenant authorizing the harvesting of wood and farming on the tract and also the clearing of the existing lake to determine if trout could be raised.  The county classified the property as commercial for tax purposes for the 2012 tax year, but not for 2013 and the owner appealed to the state (KS) Court of Tax Appeals (COTA).   The COTA ruled for the county, asserting that the owner failed to meet its burden to show that agricultural activity occurred on the property on or before January 1, 2012.  On appeal, the court determined that the COTA erred on the burden of proof issue, holding that the county bore the burden to prove that the proper classification of the property was commercial for the year in issue, and that the county had not provided any evidence to support commercial classification.  The court also held that the owner satisfied its burden of proof to establish that some agricultural activity occurred on the property in 2011.  The court vacated COTA’s order and remanded the case with directions for the COTA to enter an order classifying the property as agricultural.  In re Equalization Appeal of Camp Timberlake, LLC, No. 111,273, 2015 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 16 (Kan. Ct. App. Jan. 9, 2015).