Nathanial Foster vs Jessica Adcock Goodman, Assessor, Saline County

May 6th, 2020

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

NATHANIAL FOSTER, )
)
     Complainant, )
)
v. ) Appeal No. 19-85011
)
JESSICA ADCOCK GOODMAN, )
SALINE COUNTY, MISSOURI )
)
     Respondent. )

DECISION AND ORDER

HOLDING

            The assessment made by Jessica Adcock Goodman, Assessor of Saline County, Missouri (Respondent), is SET ASIDE. Complainant Nathanial Foster (Complainant) presented substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property at $5,500, assessed value of $1,830 as of January 1, 2019.

Complainant appeared pro se.

Respondent appeared in person and by counsel Tim Thompson

Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan (Hearing Officer).

ISSUE

            Complainant appealed the TVM of one motor vehicle, a 2017 Chevrolet Impala, on the ground of overvaluation. Respondent set the TVM of the subject vehicle at $16,500.   The State Tax Commission (STC) takes this appeal to determine the TVM for the subject property as of January 1, 2019.

The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.

FINDINGS OF FACT

  1. Authority. Complainant timely appealed to the STC. The State Tax Commission has authority over this appeal.
  2. Evidentiary Hearing. The issue of overvaluation was presented at an evidentiary hearing on March 3, 2020, at the Saline County Courthouse, Marshall Missouri.
  3. Identification of Subject Property. The subject vehicle was valued by Respondent under account number 2029532.
  4. Description of Subject Property. The vehicle is a 2017 Chevrolet, 4 door Impala.
  5. Assessment. Respondent valued the subject property at $16,500, as of January 1, 2019 using the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide pursuant to Section137.115.9 RSMo.
  6. Board of Equalization (BOE). No BOE proceeding occurred. Complainant was notified of the valuation of the vehicle upon receiving the property tax bill.
  7. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserted that the subject vehicle was overvalued. To support his assertion, Complainant offered direct testimony and the following exhibits:
Exhibit Description Ruling
A Tax receipt Admitted
B Receipt from Transportation Driver delivering vehicle Admitted
C Back of Title Admitted
D Department of Revenue Form 551 Indicating Repairs and Inspection Admitted
E State of Michigan Title Application Admitted
F Title Receipt Admitted
G Salvage Title from State of Texas Admitted

Complainant testified that he purchased the vehicle at an auction in December 2018. The vehicle had a salvage title setting out that due to the condition of the vehicle it was prohibited from being driven on public roadways. Complainant purchased the vehicle for $5,500. He testified that the vehicle had been in an accident and it sustained damage to the front end. Damage included the carriage, front end, grill, bumper, air conditioner, and radiator. Complainant was required to repair all items and have the vehicle inspected prior to obtaining a title allowing him to use the vehicle on the roadway.

Complainant made all the repairs himself and spent approximately $3000 on parts. He learned later that the transmission was damaged. He spent another $5000 to make repairs to the transmission.

  1. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered the following evidence:
Exhibit Description Ruling
1 2019 Assessment List of Complainant Admitted
2 Department of Revenue Vehicle Listings for Complainant Admitted
3 NADA October 2018 assessed valuation of $5,500 Admitted

Respondent testified that the property 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.

  1. TVM Established. Complainant’s evidence was substantial and persuasive to establish the TVM of the subject vehicle on January 1, 2019.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION

Jurisdiction

The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary, or capricious, including the application of any abatement. 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. 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 property and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money: residential property at 19%; commercial property at 32%; and agricultural property at 12%. Section 137.115.5 RSMo.

Valuation of Motor Vehicles

Pursuant to Section 137.115.9 RSMo “[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. …”

Investigation by Hearing Officer

In order to investigate appeals filed with the Commission, 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 RSMo. 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.

Complainants’ Burden of Proof

To obtain a reduction in assessed valuation based upon alleged overvaluation, a Complainant must prove the true value in money of the subject property on the subject tax day. Hermel, Inc., v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). True value in money is defined as the price that the subject property would bring when offered for sale by one willing but not obligated to sell it and bought by one willing or desirous to purchase but not compelled to do so. Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 S.W.3d 357, 365 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012); Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008); Green County v. Hermel, Inc., 511 S.W.2d 762, 771 (Mo. 1974). True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not in terms of value in use. Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973). In sum, true value in money is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, Inc., 564 S.W.2d at 897.

To prove TVM, substantial and persuasive evidence must be presented. Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959). Persuasive evidence is evidence that has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact. Cupples Hesse Corp., 329 S.W.2d at 702. 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). See also, 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).

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.” 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).

Generally, a property owner, while not an expert, is competent to testify to the reasonable market value of his own land. Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348-49; Carmel Energy, Inc v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992). “However, when an owner’s opinion is based on improper elements or foundation, his opinion loses its probative value.” Carmel Energy, Inc., 827 S.W.2d at 783. A taxpayer does not meet his 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. E.D. 1980)

Weight to be Given 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 reasonable they may be deemed entitled. The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing officer to decide. St. Louis County v. Security Bohomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).

The Hearing Officer, as the trier of fact, may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as deemed necessary when viewed in connection with all other circumstances. Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991). The Hearing Officer, as the trier of fact, is not bound by the opinions of experts but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony or accept it in part or reject it in part. Exchange Bank of Missouri v. Gerlt, 367 S.W.3d 132, 135-36 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012)

Discussion

            Complainant’s evidence was substantial and persuasive to support an opinion as to the TVM of the subject vehicle as of January 1, 2019. Complainant testified that he purchased the vehicle for $5,500. (See Ex. E and F). Complainant purchased the vehicle on or about December 26, 2018. The Supreme Court of Missouri has held that evidence of the actual sales price of property is admissible to establish value at the time of an assessment, provided that such evidence involves a voluntary purchase not too remote in time. The actual sale price is a method that may be considered for estimating true value. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993)

The purchase price of the vehicle as market value is supported by the testimony and exhibits as to the extensive damage to the vehicle on January 1, 2019 and the fact the vehicle was under a salvage title prohibiting its use on public roadways.

The vehicle has been repaired and the title has been restored. The determination of value is applicable only to the 2019 assessment.

ORDER

            The TVM for the subject vehicle as determined by Respondent is SET ASIDE. The assessed value for the subject vehicle is $1,830 ($5,500 TVM).

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.

Disputed Taxes

            The Collector of Saline 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 March 26th, 2020.

 

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

 

Maureen Monaghan

Hearing Officer

 

 

Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 26th day of March, 2020, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.

Saline County Assessor, 19 E. Arrow, Room 203, Marshall, MO 65340; salineassessor@mmuonline.net

 

Saline County Collector, Saline County Courthouse, 19 E. Arrow, Rm. 201, Marshall, MO 65340, csimscollector@mmuonline.net

Nathanial Foster, Complainant, 290 Co Rd 265, Glascow, MO 65254, nat13fos@gmail.com

 

Legal Coordinator