State Tax Commission of Missouri
|L & H RENTALS,||)|
|LINDA WAGNER, ASSESSOR||)|
|STE, GENIEVE COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Linda Wagner, Assessor of Ste. Genevieve County Missouri (Respondent), moved to dismiss the Complaint for Review of Assessment. Motion GRANTED. The complaint is dismissed because L & H Rentals (Complainant) failed to timely appeal the assessment to the Ste. Genevieve County Board of Equalization (BOE), thus depriving the State Tax Commission (Commission) of authority to hear the complaint.
Complainant appeared by counsel James Kreitler.
Respondent appeared in person and by counsel Jennifer Wu.
Motion heard and decided by Chief Counsel Maureen Monaghan.
Respondent moved to dismiss the Complaint for Review of Assessment for Lack of Authority of the State Tax Commission.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Motion Hearing. The issue of authority was presented at an evidentiary hearing on February 12, 2020 at the Ste. Genevieve County Government Center, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
- County Classification. Ste. Genevieve County is a third class county.
- Assessment. Respondent assessed Complainant’s property. Respondent issued notices of increased assessments (change notices) to property owners on June 4, 2019. The change notices included the deadline of the second Monday in July to file an appeal with theBOE to contest the assessment.
- Board of Equalization. Appeals to BOEs of third class counties are due by the 2nd Monday in July unless extended by the Board. The 2nd Monday in July, 2019 was July 8, 2019.
- Appeal to the BOE. Complainant did not file an appeal with the BOE.
- Complaint for Review of Assessment. On or about December 24, 2019, Complainant filed a Complaint for Review of Assessment with the Commission.
- Respondent’s Evidence. The Respondent moved to dismiss the Complaint for Review of Assessment filed with the Commission. Respondent offered the following exhibits to support their position:
|A||Written Direct Testimony of Respondent|
|B||Notice of Change in Value of Real Property (Change Notice)|
|C||Print Out of Electronic File of Change Notices|
|D||Documentation of Change Notice Recipients|
|E||Postage Meter Summary for Change Notices|
Respondent testified that she reviewed 579 commercial parcels or accounts for tax year 2019. Owners of the 579 accounts received a notice of the review and the results of the review. The notices were mailed on June 4, 2019. Respondent recalls the mailing to Complainant because of the increase to the value from the prior assessment cycle. Respondent mailed the notices in early June, planning for additional time to meet with this group of property owners.
Respondent testified that she mailed additional notices on June 13 and 14, 2019. A total of 2,007 notices were mailed in 2019.
Respondent identified Exhibit B as the change notice on the subject property. The notice was mailed to P.O. Box 31, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Respondent identified Exhibit C as electronic file of change notice mailings. Exhibit D was identified by Respondent as an alphabetical list of properties receiving notices. Exhibit E documents the number of notices mailed.
- Complainant’s Evidence.
Two witnesses testified at the hearing, Phillip Loida and Greg Hilbert. The witnesses own L & H Rentals. The witnesses testified that their mailing address is P.O. Box 31, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The witness testified that they have no recollection of receiving a change notice. The witnesses testified that they first appealed the assessment after receiving their tax bill in November, 2019.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
Notice of Increase
The assessor is required to notify the owner of property with any increase of the valuation. The notifications are often referred to as “impact notices” or “change notices.” The assessor is required to notify the owner in person or by mail to the last known address. Section 137.180
Respondent mailed 2007 notices, including a notice to Complainant. Complainant’s notice was mailed using the address P.O. Box 31, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The notice was mailed on June 4, 2019. The address used for the mailing of the notice to Complainant was the same address the owner testified was their correct mailing address. There is no evidence the notices were returned as undeliverable.
There is authority that the notice requirement is satisfied when such notice has been placed in the mail, whether or not received by the taxpayer. Buck v. Leggett, 813 S.W. 2d 872 (St. Ct. 1991); Peirson–Lathrop Grain Co. v. Barker(Mo.App.) 223 S.W. 941, loc. cit. 943; County Treasurer v. LaSalle–Lake Investors, 436 N.E.2d 40 (1982); Southern Tier Pizza Hut, Inc. v. Bailey, 113 Misc.2d 37, 448 N.Y.S.2d 406 (1982). Where the issue is submitted to the finder of fact, notice of an increase in assessed value can be found to have been received upon the basis of a presumption of delivery of mail, even though a taxpayer denies receipt. Hughes v. Estes, 793 S.W.2d 206 (Mo.App.1990). See also United Missouri Bank of Kansas City v. March, 650 S.W.2d 678 (Mo.App.1983). There is no evidence the notices were returned as undeliverable. Complainant received all the notice it was due.
Appeals to BOE
Appeals to the BOE are required to be filed by the second Monday in July. A timely appeal is “the vital step for perfecting an appeal and is necessary to invoke appellate jurisdiction.” State v. Hayes, 394 S.W.2d 346 (Mo. 1965). This general principle applies with equal force here, because the Commission’s authority to review an appeal from the BOE is “derivative or appellate in nature and hence the power or jurisdiction of the Commission [is] no more extensive than that possessed by the [BOE].” Foster Bros. Mfg. Co. v. State Tax Comm’n, 319 S.W.2d 590, 595 (Mo. 1958); Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. State Tax Comm’n, 516 S.W.3d 830, 837 (Mo. banc 2017) (the Commission’s authority to consider an appeal “is derivative” of the BOE).
BOE and Commission have only such powers and jurisdiction as is specified in applicable statutes. The Commission’s jurisdiction is derivative from BOE when it reviews appeals from the BOE. Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. STC, 516 S.W.3d 830 (S. Ct. 2017) 837
Complainant did not file an appeal by the BOE deadline. The BOE did not hear the appeal, therefore, the Commission does not have authority to hear the appeal.
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss is sustained as the Commission lacks authority to hear the appeal.
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 Legal@stc.mo.gov, and a copy of said 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, RSMo.
The Collector of Ste. Genevieve 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 February 25th, 2020.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 25th day of February, 2020, to:
Jennifer Wu, Attorney for Respondent, JWu@lewisreedallen.com
James Kreitler, Attorney for Complainant, firstname.lastname@example.org
 As an administrative body, the Commission “is not constitutionally vested with subject matter jurisdiction, as the courts of this state are; rather, it is merely conferred statutory authority to take certain actions.” Cass County v. Dir. of Revenue, 550 S.W.3d 70, 74 (Mo. banc 2018); see also State ex rel. Zimmerman v. Blanc, 548 S.W.3d 396, 402 n.7 (Mo. App. 2018) (the Commission exercises statutory authority, not jurisdiction, because the Commission “does not derive its power to act directly from the Missouri Constitution”); State ex rel. Praxair, Inc. v. Mo. Pub. Serv. Comm’n, 344 S.W.3d 178, 192 n.9 (Mo. banc 2011) (reference to an administrative agency’s “jurisdiction” is more appropriately phrased as a reference to its “authority”). The Commission, therefore, will refer to “authority,” not “jurisdiction.”
 When certified mail is returned unclaimed, due process requires the state to take additional reasonable steps to notify the property owner. Jones v. Flowers, 547 U.S. 220, 239 (2006). The notices mailed to Ameren were not returned unclaimed.