State Tax Commission of Missouri
|BRE LQ PROPERTIES, LLC,||)|
|v.||)||Appeal No. 13-13064|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is SET ASIDE. Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2013 and 2014 is set at $1,400,000, commercial assessed value of $448,000.
Complainant appeared by counsel Brian Howes
Respondent appeared by counsel Ed Corrigan.
Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
Complainant appeals, on the grounds of overvaluation and discrimination, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property. The Complainant abandoned their claim of discrimination. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2013. The value as of January 1 of the odd numbered year remains the value as of January 1 of the following even numbered year unless there is new construction and improvement to the property. Section 137.115.1 RSMo
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
- Evidentiary Hearing. A scheduling order was issued on March 14, 2014, in the appeal. Exhibits were filed pursuant to that schedule. No parties requested a hearing and therefore the appeals were taken under advisement.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by map parcel number 09K410307. It is further identified as 7151 Douglas W. Palmer Place, St Louis County, Missouri.
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of 1.85 acre of land improved by a four story hotel of 44,639 square feet constructed in 1990. The hotel has 99 guestrooms, a breakfast/dining area, fitness room, lobby, guest laundry and vending service. The property is under the La Quinta franchise.
- Assessment. The Assessor appraised the property at $2,288,900, commercial assessed value of $732,450. The Board of Equalization sustained the value set by the Assessor.
- Complainant’s Evidence. The Complainant submitted Exhibit A (Appraisal Report) and Exhibit B (Written Direct Testimony of Certified Appraiser Daniel McCoy). The appraiser developed an opinion of value for the property using the Rushmore methodology of valuing hotel property. Using the recognized methodology, the appraiser concluded a value of $1,400,000 as of January 1, 2013.
- No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2014; therefore, the assessed value for 2013 remains the assessed value for 2014. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent did not submit any evidence.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Rebutted. Complainant’s evidence was substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.
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. 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 and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money; commercial property at 32% of true value in money and agricultural property at 12% of true value in money.
Presumption In Appeal
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization. Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958). The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property. Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See, Cupples-Hesse, supra. 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. Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
Upon presentation of the Complainant’s evidence (Exhibit A) the presumption in this appeal disappeared. The submission of the appraisal report, performed by a state certified real estate appraiser, established the Board’s value was in error. The appraisal established the fair market value that should have been placed on the 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, 2013. Hermel, supra. 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.” 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). A valuation which does not reflect the fair market value (true value in money) of the property under appeal is an unlawful, unfair and improper assessment.
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. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973). It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, supra. Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in a 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.
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. See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra; Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975
Valuing Hotel or Motel Property
In the real estate appraisal industry, the market value of a hotel is considered to consist of four components (1) value of the land; (2) value of the improvements; (3) value of the business or going concern and franchise affiliation; and (4) value of the furniture, fixtures and equipment (i.e. personal property). John Hancock Mutual Life v. Stanton, 51 STC Proceedings and Decisions, 1996, p. 394. Lesser and Rubin, Understanding the Unique Aspects of Hotel Property Tax Valuation, The Appraisal Journal, January, 1993, p. 17.
Hotels and motels are almost always valued by an income capitalization approach that takes the property’s stabilized net income and capitalizes it into an estimate of market value. The approach should also take into consideration regular and ordinary expenses. Included in those expenses would be the periodic replacement of furniture, fixtures and equipment, management and franchise fees. The appraiser also needs to account for the income derived from those items.
The return on personal property to be deducted from a hotel’s income and expense statements can be calculated by (1) using the market value of the personal property as shown on the assessment rolls; (2) actual appraisal of the personal property; or (3) using the depreciated book value of the personal property. Return on personalty is determined by adding the capitalization rate for the real property to the tax load or effective tax rate per $100 of the personal property and multiplying same by the assessed value of the personal property. In attempting to segregate personal property from real estate, the primary consideration in valuing the personal property is its actual contributory value, not its hypothetical replacement cost new less depreciation. Lesser and Rubin, Understanding the Unique Aspects of Hotel Property Tax Valuation, The Appraisal Journal, January 1993, P. 33, Crown Center, supra, p. 439, John Hancock, supra, p. 396.
Management companies generally offer their brand names, corporate identities, and reservation systems solely in conjunction with their management expertise. The process of isolating the value of a hotel’s business is based on the premise that by employing a professional management agent to handle the day-to-day operation of the property, an owner maintains only a passive interest, while income attributed to the business has been taken by the managing agent in the form of a management fee. Therefore, deduction of a management fee from the stabilized net income removes a portion of the business component from the stabilized income stream.
Additionally, lodging facilities operated with a franchise affiliation provided by a third party are subject to the payment of franchise fees. Deducting the franchise fees from the stabilized net income removes the remaining business component from the income stream. Lesser and Rubin, Understanding the Unique Aspects of Hotel Property Tax Valuation, The Appraisal Journal, April 1984, p. 280-291; Crown Center, supra at p. 438. John Hancock, supra at p. 397.
The Complainant presented the testimony and report of a general certified appraiser. The appraiser valued the subject property using the income approach – Rushmore methodology. The appraiser appropriately handled the property taxes, management fees, franchise fees, personal property, and reserves.
The appraiser also reviewed the sale of hotels. The sales comparison approach was not fully developed as buyers and sellers in this market typically do not rely on this method for a variety of reasons, including that the sales include property other than the real property.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and modified by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE for an assessed value of $448,000.
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, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address 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 St. Louis 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 16th day of March, 2016.
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 16th day of March, 2016, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the county Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and county Collector.
Contact Information for State Tax Commission:
Missouri State Tax Commission
301 W. High Street, Room 840
P.O. Box 146
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146