STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|EAGAN, MARK & COLLEEN||)
|)||Appeal No. 19-15877|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,
ST LOUIS, COUNTY, MISSOURI,
DECISION AND ORDER
Mark and Colleen Eagan (Complainants) appeal valuation of the subject property determined by Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, St. Louis County, Missouri, (Respondent). Complainants did not appeal to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization (BOE), but appealed directly to the State Tax Commission (STC) after receiving first notification of the valuation upon receiving the 2019 tax bill. Respondent placed an assessed value as of January 1, 2019, of $1,800 for the 2010 GMC Acadia and $5,880 for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Complainants claim overvaluation and did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. Respondent presented substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019. The parties waived their opportunity for an evidentiary hearing and agreed to submit the appeals on the record.² Complainants appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel, Steven Robson.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is a 2010 GMC Acadia and a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent determined the personal property trade-in value of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $5,400 for the 2010 GMC Acadia and $17,625 for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, with an assessed value of $1,800 for the 2010 GMC Acadia and $5,880 for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica using the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide pursuant to Section 137.115.9. There was no Board of Equalization decision regarding the property.
- Complainants’ Evidence. Complainants submitted their Complaint for Review of Assessment to the STC with Exhibit A attached, which alleged the TVM of the 2010 GMC Acadia on January 1, 2019, was $3,400. Complainants did not propose an opinion of the TVM of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Complainants submitted the following exhibits:
|A||Kelly Blue Book Value for GMC Acadia||Admitted|
|B||Pictures of GMC Acadia||Admitted|
|C||Registration Receipt for GMC Acadia||Admitted|
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibits 1-4 and the written direct testimony (WDT) of Suzanne Strain, Personal Property Appraiser, which are admitted into evidence. Ms. Strain has been an appraiser for St Louis County since 2013. Exhibits 1 and 3 include NADA reports for the 2010 GMC Acadia and Exhibits 2 and 4 include NADA reports for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Respondent’s WDT concluded that based on the Exhibits, the TVM as of January 1, 2019, for the 2010 GMC Acadia was $4,725, with an assessed value of $1,570 and for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica was $17,625, with an assessed value of $5,880.
- Value. Respondent’s evidence was substantial and persuasive to establish the TVM of the subject vehicles on January 1, 2019.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation
Pursuant to Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 real property and tangible personal property is 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. Personal property is assessed at 33.33% of its TVM as of January 1 of each year. Section 137.115.5. Pursuant to Section 137.115.9 “[t]he assessor of each county and each city not within a county shall use the trade-in value published in the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide, or its successor publication, as the recommended guide of information for determining the true value of the motor vehicles described in such publication. The assessor shall not use a value that is greater than the average trade-in value in determining the true value of the vehicle without performing a physical inspection of the motor vehicle. …”. “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005) (internal quotation omitted). The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.” Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). Determining the TVM is a factual issue for the STC. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).
The hearing officer is the finder of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony. Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012). “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The hearing officer “may inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property.” Section 138.430.2. The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon his inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties. Id.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
The Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Westwood Partnership, 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. W.D. 1991). The taxpayer’s evidence must be both “substantial and persuasive.” Id. “Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Savage, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (internal quotation omitted). Evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); see also White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010) (noting the burden of persuasion is the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”). A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the STC “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).
- Complainants Did Not Prove Overvaluation.
Complainants’ evidence established that the 2010 GMC Acadia has a private party market value of $4,887 with the mileage and specifications listed. See Exhibit A. However, the Exhibit A is undated, so this evidence is not persuasive as to the value of the vehicle on January 1, 2019. Further, the Complainants’ proposed value of $3,400 is not supported in any of the Exhibits submitted by Complainants. No evidence was submitted regarding the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
Respondent’s witness, Ms. Strain, credibly testified in her WDT that each vehicle was valued utilizing the average trade-in value of the vehicle published in the October 2018 issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide as required by statute. See WDT and Exhibits 2 and 4. Both vehicles’ TVM were adjusted for mileage. See Exhibits 2 and 4. Respondent presented substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation for the vehicles was $4,725 for the 2010 GMC Acadia, with an assessed value of $1,570 and was $17,625 for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, with an assessed value of $5,880.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, for the 2010 GMC Acadia was $4,725, with an assessed value of $1,570 and for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica was $17,625, with an assessed value of $5,880.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within 30 days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application “shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.” Section 138.432. The application must be in writing, and may be mailed to the State Tax Commission, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to Legal@stc.mo.gov. A copy of the application must be sent to each person 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.
The Collector of St Louis 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.
SO ORDERED June 4, 2021.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
ERICA M GAGE
Senior Hearing Officer
State Tax Commission
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on June 4, 2021, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 Complainant timely filed a complaint for review of assessment. The State Tax Commission (STC) has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal. Mo. Const. art. X, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
² Section 138.431.5 provides the “hearing officer, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity for fair hearing, shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the BOE, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.”