Wade Wheeler v. Chuck Pennel, Assessor Taney County

May 3rd, 2016

State Tax Commission of Missouri


                                   Complainant, )  
v. ) Appeal Number 15-89569
                                     Respondent )  






The assessment of Complainant’s 2007 American Waterways boat by Somerset is SET ASIDE. Substantial and persuasive evidence was presented to allow the establishment of the true value in money for the houseboat as of January 1, 2015 by Complainant.  True value in money for the subject houseboat for tax year 2015 is set at $234,000

Complainant Wade Wheeler appeared pro se.

Respondent Chuck Pennel appeared pro se.

Appeal heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu.


Complainant appeals the valuation of the aforementioned boat. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject personal property on January 1, 2015.  The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


  1. Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.  Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission.
  2. Subject Property. The subject property is a 16’ x 75’ American Waterways houseboat built by Somerset Houseboats.
  3. Assessment. The Assessor valued the subject property at $238,168
  4. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant’s evidence consisted of the following:
Exhibit A Letter and Photographs
Exhibit B Documents Regarding Subject Property
Exhibit C Documents Sent by Respondent to Complainant
Exhibit D Documents Sent by Respondent to Complainant
Exhibit E Listings and Sales Documents
Exhibit F 2003 Sumerset 18’ x 92’ Documents
Exhibit G 2006 Sharp 18’ x 94’ Documents
Exhibit H 2006 Sharp 16’ x 84’ Documents
Exhibit I 2005 Sumerset 16’ x 80’ Documents
Exhibit J 2002 Sumeret 18’ x 80’ Documents
Exhibit K 2003 Sumerset 16’ x 80’ Documents
Exhibit L 1995 Sumerset 16’ x 75’ Documents
Exhibit M 2006 American Waterways 18’ x 75’ Documents
Exhibit N 2006 American Waterways 16’ x 75’ Documents
Exhibit O Graph


  1. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent’s evidence consisted of the following:
Exhibit 1 Purchase and Sale Agreement


  1. Testimony on Purchase of Subject Property. Exhibit 1 shows a purchase date of May 23, 2014 and a purchase price for the subject property of $239,000.  However, Complainant testified that $5,000 of such purchase price was for a jet ski.  Although the Purchase and Sale Agreement (Exhibit 1) fails to evidence such $5,000 attribution for a jet ski, the Hearing Officer found Complainant’s testimony on this issue very credible.
  2. Concluded Value. The true value in money of Complainant’s subject property is set at $234,000, assessed value of $78,000. See, Complainants’ Burden of Proof and Evidence and Respondent’s Evidence & Hearing Officer Finds Value, infra.



The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious. The Hearing Officer shall issue a decision and order correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.

Basis of Assessment

                The Constitution mandates that real property and tangible personal property be assessed at its value or such percentage of its value as may be fixed by law for each class and for each subclass. Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945. The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property is assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115 RSMo.

Standard for Valuation

Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so. Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973). It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, supra. Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.

Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:

  1. Buyer and seller are typically motivated.


  1. Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.


  1. A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.


  1. Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.


  1. Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.


  1. The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction. Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5; Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Glossary.


Complainants’ Burden of Proof and Evidence and Respondent’s Evidence

In order to prevail, Complainants must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2015. Hermel, supra. There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof.  The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.  Therefore, the Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”  See, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003). Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).

A valuation which does not reflect the fair market value (true value in money) of the property under appeal is an unlawful, unfair and improper assessment. Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.  The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.   Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975). A taxpayer does not meet his/her burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”  See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).

In the present case, the subject property was purchased on May 23, 2014, only a little over seven (7) months prior to the valuation date. The Purchase and Sale Agreement shows a sales price of $239,000; however, based upon the testimony of Complainant, $5,000 of such was for a jet ski.  Complainant’s testimony induced belief by the Hearing Officer and thus was deemed persuasive and substantial.  Consequently, a net sales price of $234,000 can be attributed to the purchase of the subject property.   As to Complainant’s other evidence, such left the Hearing Officer “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”  See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).  Exhibits C through O presented documentation regarding other watercraft.  No evidence was submitted as to the particulars of each such watercraft, including, but not limited to the actual condition, amenities, etc. of each of such.  Complainant himself testified about how the watercraft, the subject of Exhibit F, was a “showboat” which was fully loaded with amenities.  Thus, Complainant himself recognized that each boat may be individual and unique in its make-up.  The Hearing Officer would have to guess in order to compare the watercraft in Exhibits C through O to the subject property.  Nevertheless, even if speculation were proper, a simple look at Complainant’s own Exhibit C shows an 18’ x 75’ American Waterways by Sumerset houseboat with a price of $264,000.  Admittedly such houseboat is two (2) feet longer than Complainant’s (16’ x 75’); however, such price converts into $195.55+ dollars per square foot.  By applying such to the square footage of Complainant’s houseboat, such being 1,200 square feet, a value of $234,666.66 is reached.  Such number is only $666.66 more than Complainant paid for his houseboat, thus supporting the purchase price and the appropriate value on January 1, 2015.

Hearing Officer Finds Value

            The Hearing Officer considered the information provided by Complainant and Respondent and concluded on a true market value of $234,000, an assessed value of $78,000.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor for Taney County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE. The valuation of the subject property is set at a true market value of $234,000, an assessed value of $78,000.

Application for Review

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service. The application shall contain specific facts or law as grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.  Said application must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.

Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo.

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Taney County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending the possible filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of Section 139.031.8, RSMo.

Any Finding of Fact which is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed. Any Decision which is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.

SO ORDERED May 3, 2016.


John J. Treu

Senior Hearing Officer


Delivery or Notice was made via mail, email, fax, or personally on May 3, 2016 to the following Individuals of this Order


chuckp@co.taney.mo.us; wade@primrosedentalclinic.com; swyatt@co.taney.mo.us


Jacklyn Wood

Legal Coordinator