STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|ANNALEE NISSENHOLTZ||)||Appeal No. 21-10179|
|TRUSTEE ET AL,||)||Parcel No. 18K613135|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Annalee Nissenholtz Trustee Et Al (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (Respondent) decision valuing the subject residential property at $819,500 as of January 1, 2021. Complainant alleges overvaluation and asserts the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property as $775,000 as of January 1, 2021. The BOE decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was held on July 21, 2022, via Webex. Complainant appeared by counsel David Nissenholtz. Respondent was represented by counsel, Tim Bowe. The appeal was heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer Benjamin C. Slawson.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property. The subject residential property consists of a condominium at 335 N. Meramec Ave., St. Louis, Missouri. Complainant, through Mr. Nissenholtz, testified that the square footage of the living space of the condo about 3,000 square feet. The condo has three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. Complainant purchased the property in 2002. Complainant has not made any significant improvements to the property in the last three years.
- Assessment and Valuation. Respondent determined that the subject property’s value as of January 1, 2021 was $819,500. The BOE independently determined the subject property’s appraised value as of January 1, 2021, was $819,500.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant introduced Exhibit A, a two-page document listing five comparable sales used by Respondent for the subject property dated July 8, 2021. Exhibit A was admitted without objection. Mr. Nissenholtz testified on behalf of Complainant. While Mr. Nissenholtz is not a licensed appraiser in the State of Missouri, he testified that he has knowledge of the subject property as he lives there, and testified that he has general knowledge of real estate matters as a licensed attorney. Mr. Nissenholtz admitted on cross-examination that he does not have classroom training or experience in making market-based adjustments to comparable properties to determine the TVM of a subject property.
Complainant’s stated opinion of value as of January 1, 2021 is $775,000. Mr. Nissenholtz essentially argued at hearing that Respondent’s appraised value for the subject is overvalued when Respondent’s own comparable data is examined. Using Exhibit A, the listed comparables Respondent used for the subject, Mr. Nissenholtz discussed that Respondent lists both a Cost Value Estimate and Market Approach Summary in its overview of the five comparable sales for the subject. Mr. Nissenholtz asserted that four of the Cost Value Estimate properties are less than the appraised value of the subject assigned by Respondent. Additionally, Mr. Nissenholtz testified that he added up these values, divided by five, and obtained an average of $800,383. Mr. Nissenholtz testified that removing the highest and lowest estimates of the five and then averaging them resulted in an average cost value estimate for the middle three comparables, $787,065.
Under the Market Approach Summary sales prices for the five comparables, Mr. Nissenholtz again noted that four out of the comparable values were less than the appraised valuation of the subject. Mr. Nissenholtz added up these values, divided by five, and obtained an average of $735,210. Mr. Nissenholtz testified that similar to his Cost Value Estimate average calculation, when he removed the highest and lowest estimates of the five and then averaged them he arrived at an average for the middle three comparables in the Market Approach Summary, $703,666. Mr. Nissenholtz asserted that Complainant’s essential argument is that since these underlying values were used by Respondent in arriving at its appraised value of $819,500 for the subject, that Complainant’s opinion of value of $775,000 is much closer to the averages of the comparables using the two methods.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent s Exhibit 1, consisting of the October 29, 2021, BOE decision letter for the subject property. Exhibit 1 shows the BOE valued the subject property at $819,500. Exhibit 1 was admitted without objection.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $819,500.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. Residential real property is assessed at 19% of its TVM as of January 1 of each odd-numbered year. Sections 137.115.1; 137.115.5(1)(a). The TVM is “the fair market value of the property on the valuation date[.]” 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). “True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange not value in use.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020) (internal quotation omitted). The TVM “is a function of [the property’s] highest and best use[.]” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. “Determining the true value in money is an issue of fact for the STC.” Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008).
The TVM of a property is typically determined by the sales comparison approach, the income approach, or the cost approach. Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d at 346-48.
- Evidence. 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). “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. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence the property is overvalued. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs, 599 S.W.3d at 7. The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). The taxpayer also must prove “the value that should have been placed on the property.” 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 v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 77 (Mo. banc 1986) (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”).
Property owners are competent to testify to the reasonable fair market value of their property. Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348. However, if owner’s testimony is based on “improper elements or an improper foundation[,]” it is not substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the presumptively correct BOE value. Id. at 349.
- Complainant Did Not Produce Substantial and Persuasive Evidence of Overvaluation.
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the presumptively correct BOE value. Complainant argues that an opinion of value of $775,000 is much more in line with the averages of values taken from Respondent’s comparable data under the Cost Approach Summary and Market Approach Summary. However, Complainant’s method of averaging these amounts to determine value is not an approach to value that is used in Missouri to determine the TVM of a subject property.
Neither Complainant’s exhibit nor Mr. Nissenholtz’s testimony utilized the comparable sales approach, income approach, or cost approach to support the proposed value. No comparable sales were cited or analyzed by Complainant, making appropriate market adjustments under appraisal methods to determine value. Additionally, Complainant did not offer testimony of an appraiser nor an appraisal of the property as evidence of the TVM of the property as of January 1, 2021. The lack of evidence relating to a recognized valuation method renders Complainant’s proposed value speculative and unpersuasive. See Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 349 (holding an opinion of value loses probative value when based on an improper foundation). Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence showing the BOE overvalued the subject property and “the value that should have been placed on the property.” Tibbs, 599 S.W.3d at 7.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $819,500.
Application for Review
A party may file 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 of Missouri, 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, and 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 the disputed taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of section 139.031.
SO ORDERED October 21, 2022.
Benjamin C. Slawson
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 October 21, 2022, 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, sec. 14; Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.