State Tax Commission of Missouri
BING & LI HWANG,)
v.) Appeals Number 09-84000 & 09-84001
DAN WARD, ASSESSOR,)
ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decisions of the Assessor setting the assessments for each property under appeal AFFIRMED.
True value in money for the subject property in Appeal 09-84000 for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $11,960, residential assessed value of $2,270.
True value in money for the subject property in Appeal 09-84001 for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $8,000, residential assessed value of $1,520.
Complainant Li Hwang appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared in person and by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Patrick King.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject properties on January 1, 2009.
Complainants appeal, on the ground of overvaluation, the assessments made on each property by the Assessor.In Appeal 09-84000, the Assessor determined an appraised value of $11,960, assessed value of $2,270, as residential property.In Appeal 09-84001, the Assessor determined an appraised value of $8,000, assessed value of $1,520, as residential property.Complainants did not give an owner’s opinion of value for either property on the Complainants for Review of Assessment.A hearing was conducted on October 6, 2009, at the St. Francois County Courthouse Annex, Farmington, Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Complainants offered into evidence the folllowing exhibits:
Valuation Information – Appeal 09-84000
Valuation Information – Appeal 09-84001
Property Record Card – St. Louis County Property
Written Statement of Ms. Wang
Counsel for Respondent objected to Exhibits A, B and C on the ground that the properties referenced in the exhibits were not comparable for purposes of establishing the true value in money of the subject properties.Objection was sustained.The Exhibits are maintained in the appeal files, but are not part of the record on which this decision is rendered.See, Exclusion of Exhibits, infra.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Ward and Exhibit 1 – Valuation Data.Exhibit 1 was received into evidence.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Filed with the Complainants for Review of Assessment (and also contained in Exhibits A & B) were the following documents:
A.Letter dated July 16, 2009, to Complainants from Assessor, advising that upon review by the Assessor’s office, the assessed values on both properties had been reduced from $2,840 to $2,270 and from $1,900 to $1,520 respectively.
B.Letter dated July 20, 2009, to Ms. Wang from Secretary of the Board of Equalization, Mark L. Hedrick, providing a postcard to appeal to the State Tax Commission.
2.On August 17, 2009, County Clerk, Mark L. Hedrick, faxed to the Commission a letter informing the Commission that the properties under appeal had not been appealed to the Board of Equalization because the final assessment was received by Complainants after the Board had closed.
3.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the assessments made by the Assessor.Complaints for Review of Assessment were filed on August 14, 2009, within 30 days after receiving final assessments from the Assessor, and within 30 days date of letter of the County Clerk providing postcard for appeal to the Commission.
4.The subject property in Appeal 09-84000 is identified by map parcel number 7-6-14-4-14-1.00, it consists of a 1.99 acre unimproved lot.The subject property in Appeal 09-84001 is identifed by map parcel number 7-6-13-3-13-2.00, it consists of .8 of an acre unimproved lot.
5.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2009, to the date of hearing.Ms. Wang testifed there were no plans to build on either property prior to January 1, 2010.Therefore the values placed on the properties for the 2009 tax year will remain the same for the 2010 tax year, unless prior to January 1, 2010, there is new construction and improvement made to a property.
6.Complainants’ evidence was not substantial and persuasive to establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2009 for either of the properties under appeal.
7.Upon failure of Complainants to establish the true value in money for the properties under appeal, there is no need or basis to analyze and evaluate evidence submitted by Respondent.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.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.
Standard for Valuation
Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so.It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.
Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:
1.Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
Methods of Valuation
Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. Complainants presented no evidence to establish the true vlaue in money of either property based upon any of the recognized methodologies for the appraisal of real property.
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainants must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2009.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.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.
A taxpayer does not meet the burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”Ms. Wang offered no opinion of value for either property.She presented no evidence to establish the fair market value of the property.The entirety of Ms. Wang’s argument relates to the percentage of increase for her properties.Percentage increase on the valuation of property is irrelevant to establish fair market value.Percentage increase has no probative value.Relying on a percentage increase assumes that the valuation for the prior assessment cycle was in fact market value.It may or may not have been.
Each assessment cycle calls for a new valuation.When as in this instance, the Complainant fails to present any market (i.e. sales) data for properties sufficiently comparable to the property under appeal, the required burden of proof has not been met and the taxpayer cannot prevail.Failure of the taxpayer to establish by substantial and persuasive evidence what a willing buyer and seller would have paid for the property under appeal on the assessment date (1/1/09) results in the existing assessment being affirmed.That is the case in these two instances.
Exclusion of Exhibits
The documents contained in the exhibits tendered by Ms. Hwang provide assessment data on properties in St. Louis County.The properties are not established to be comparable to the subject.In point of fact none of them are vacant land sales.The fact that these are St. Louis County assessments renders them totally irrelevant.The documents are property record cards.They do not present any sales data to establish market value as of January 1, 2009, for 1 or 1 acre tracts of land in the Farmington, St. Francois County area.The documents are hearsay and do not fall under a recognized exception for purposes of a State Tax Commission hearing on the valuation of land in St. Francois County.
Submission of Documents After Close of Hearing
On October 7, 2009, Ms. Hwang faxed to the Hearing Officer an 11 page document with additional information concerning her appeals.Parties are not permitted to submit Exhibits after the hearing has closed.The packed of documents is maintained in the appeal files, but is not received into the record and is not considered in rendering this decision and order.
The assessed valuations for the subject properties as determined by the Assessor for St. Francois County for the subject tax day are AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property in Appeal No. 09-84000 for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $2,270.
The assessed value for the subject property in Appeal No. 09-84001 for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $1,520.
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.The application shall contain specific 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, MO65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
The Collector of St. Francois County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending a 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 November 10, 2009.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor, Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 10thday of November, 2009, to:Li Hwang, 1839 Seven Pines Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146, Complainant; Patrick King, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, 1 N. Washington, Suite 301, Farmington, MO 63640, Attorney for Respondent; Dan Ward, Assessor, County Courthouse Annex, 1 W. Liberty, Suite 200, Farmington, MO 63640; Mark Hedrick, Clerk, Courthouse Annex, 1 W. Liberty, Suite 300, Farmington, MO 63640; Pamela Williams, Collector, Courthouse Annex, 1 W. Liberty, Suite 201, Farmington, MO 63640.
Barbara Heller, Legal Coordinator
 Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5; Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Glossary.
 St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).
 See, 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).Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).