STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|PAUL FOELLER||)||Appeal No. 19-90000|
|DEBBIE JAMES, ASSESSOR,||)
|TEXAS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Paul Foeller (Complainant) appeals the determination of the Texas County Board of Equalization (BOE) that the fair market value of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $100,640. Debbie James (Respondent), Assessor of Texas County, Missouri, determined the fair market value of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $100,640. Complainant claims the property was overvalued.
The hearing officer conducted an evidentiary hearing. Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The determination of the BOE is affirmed.
FINDINGS OF FACT
A. The Subject Property
- The subject residential property is located at 1331 Highland Street, Cabool, Missouri. The parcel number is 30-0.1-02-004-015-002.5.
- The subject property consists of an approximately 19,200 square foot lot, an approximately 1,360 square foot house, and a 2-car attached garage.
- The house was constructed in 1996 or 1997. The external walls are vinyl. There are 3 bedrooms, 1 full bathroom, and 1 half bathroom. The home contains no fireplace.
- The home was purchased by Complainant in 2003 for $86,000.
B. The BOE Decision
- The BOE determined the fair market value of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $100,640.
C. Complainant’s Appeal
- Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission (Commission).
- Complainant alleged the subject property was overvalued and that he was subjected to discrimination.
- Complainant submitted exhibits A through X. Each exhibit was admitted into evidence without objection. Complainant’s exhibits were as follows:
|Exhibit A||Complainant’s Board of Equalization Submission|
|Exhibit B||Memorandum for Record Regarding County Clerk|
|Exhibit C||July 30, 2019 Email|
|Exhibit D||Missouri Sunshine Law Request|
|Exhibit E||Board of Equalization Decision|
|Exhibit F||Board of Appeals Transcript|
|Exhibit H||2017 Notice of Change of Value|
|Exhibit I||Memorandum for Record|
|Exhibit J||Board of Equalization Transcript|
|Exhibit K||Wright County Tax Statement|
|Exhibit L||Osborn Estates Covenants (Wright County)|
|Exhibit M||Settlement Statement for Wright County Property|
|Exhibit N||Osborn Estates Plot|
|Exhibit O||Email To Respondent|
|Exhibit P||Email To Button|
|Exhibit Q||Email to Respondent|
|Exhibit R||2017 Auditor’s Report|
|Exhibit S||2014 Auditor’s Report|
|Exhibit T||Consumer Price Index|
|Exhibit U||2019 Board of Equalization Workshop Handout|
|Exhibit V||Texas County Land Auction|
|Exhibit W||Subject Property Tax Documents|
|Exhibit X||Audio & Video Recordings|
Exhibit A consists of an analysis of 3 homes, one being the subject property, with the other 2 being neighboring homes. Complainant sets forth the specifications of each home, including the sales price if sold in the last few years. Complainant then compares the 2019 valuation of each home compared to its sales price. Finally, Complainant draws certain conclusions regarding the validity of Respondent’s valuation of property in Texas County.
- Complainant testified the subject property was purchased in 2003 by him and his wife for $86,000. Complainant contends the subject property had a true value in money of $80,000, as of January 1, 2019.
- Complainant presented no evidence based upon the sales comparison approach (market approach), the income approach or the cost approach. Complainant offered no appraisal report. Complainant did not testify that he is an appraiser or realtor, or that he has any expertise in the valuation of property.
- Respondent submitted Exhibit 1. The exhibit was admitted into evidence without objection. Respondent’s exhibit was as follows:
|Exhibit 1||Wright County Land Value Document|
12. The true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019 is $100,640. The assessed value of such is $19,120.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The Commission has authority, “under such rules as may be prescribed by law, to hear appeals from local boards in individual cases and, upon such appeal, to correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.” Mo. Const. art. X, § 14. Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000, authorizes the Commission to hear appeals concerning assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment. “The commission shall investigate all such appeals and shall correct any assessment or valuation which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Id. “To hear and decide appeals pursuant to section 138.430, the commission shall appoint one or more hearing officers.” Section 138.431.1. The hearing officer “shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the board of equalization, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.” Section 138.431.5.
- True Value in Money
All real property and tangible personal property must be assessed at its value or a percentage of its value as fixed by law for each class and for each subclass. Mo. Const. art. X, sec. 4(a), 4(b). Section 137.115.5(1) (a) provides residential property is assessed at 19% of its true value in money. The true value in money “is an estimate of the fair market value on the valuation date.” Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Comm’n, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). 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 true value in money is a factual issue. Parker v. Doe Run Co., 553 S.W.3d 356, 360 (Mo. App. 2018).
- Evidentiary Standards
The hearing officer is the trier of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Citizens for Rural Pres., Inc. v. Robinett, 648 S.W.2d 117, 132 (Mo. App. 1982); see also Exch. Bank of Mo. v. Gerlt, 367 S.W.3d 132, 136 (Mo. App. 2012) (the trier of fact determines credibility and is free to disbelieve all or part of a party’s evidence). The hearing officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, and “is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled to.” St. Louis Cty. v. State Tax Comm’n, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); see also Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. 2015) (the relative weight of any relevant factor is for the administrative hearing officer to decide). “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977).
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
A taxpayer challenging the assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment bears the burden of proving the assessment or valuation was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Section 138.430.1; Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003).
Substantial evidence is evidence which “has probative force upon the issues . . . and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Cupples Hesse, 329 S.W.2d at 702 (internal quotation omitted). To prevail, the taxpayer must produce “persuasive” evidence sufficient to convince the trier the disputed fact has been established. White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010); see also Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002) (evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact”).
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true value in money of the subject property. The value of other properties is not an accurate indicator of the value of the subject property, unless appropriate adjustments are made for the different characteristics of the other properties compared to the subject property. Complainant presented evidence in an attempt to call into question the validity of the accuracy of the valuation of the subject property. A taxpayer must prove both that the subject property is overvalued and its true value in money. Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to meet his burden of proof to establish the true value in money of the subject property. In the absence of persuasive evidence of value, speculation, conjecture, and surmise is all that remains. The Hearing Officer will not participate in speculation, conjecture and surmise to determine a true value in money of the subject property.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The determination of the BOE is affirmed. The true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019 is $100,640. The assessed value of such is $19,120.
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 for this decision. 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, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a copy of the application must be sent to each person listed below in the certificate of service.
Failure to state the specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432.
The Collector of Texas 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 this 2nd day of January, 2020.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
John J. Treu
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I certify that on January 2nd, 2020, a copy of the foregoing was sent via email to
 All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.