State Tax Commission of Missouri
v. ) Appeal No.11-10306
JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Complainant failed to present 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 2011 and 2012 is set at $30,000, residential assessed value of $5,700.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Associate County Counselor, Paula J. Lemerman.
Case decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2011.The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. 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.
2. Procedural History.
A.October 18, 2011 – Complaint for Review of Assessment received by the Commission.
B.November 17, 2011 – Appeal acknowledged.
C.February 6, 2012 – Order setting Prehearing Conference issued.
D.March 8, 2012 – Prehearing Conference held, Respondent made no offer of settlement at that time.
E.May 4, 2012 – Order Assigning Hearing Officer and Setting Evidentiary Hearing issued.Evidentiary Hearing set for August 2, 2012.
F.July 26, 2012 – Hearing Officer informed by Counsel for Respondent that Complainant had “changed his mind about signing the stipulation” which Counsel had sent to him on 6/14/12, following his acceptance of the offer in a telephone call.Counsel asked for a Continuance of the Evidentiary Hearing.
G.July 30, 2012 – Order Granting Request for Continuance granted.
H.August 10, 2012 – Order Placing Appeal Under Exhibit Exchange Schedule issued.
I.September 7, 2012 – Complainant files Exhibit A with the Commission.
3.Submission of Complainant’s Exhibits & Value Statement.By Order issued August 10, 2012, the appeal was placed under an Exhibit Exchange Schedule.Complainant was ordered to file with the Commission, copy to Counsel for Respondent, of all exhibits to support his opinion of value and his statement setting forth the basis for his opinion of value.Upon receipt of Complainant’s exhibits the Hearing Officer was to determine if Complainant had presented evidence to establish a prima facie case for the relieve sought.See, Complainant Failed To Prove Value, infra.
6.Complainant’s Evidence.Complainant filed with the Commission on September 7, 2012 his Exhibit A.Exhibit A was a narrative listing of items A – J asserting certain facts relative to homes on the subject street and factors concerning the subject home.
Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2011, to be $11,000, as proposed.See, Complainant Failed To Prove Value, infra.
7.Respondent’s Evidence.By the Order Placing Appeal Under Exhibit Exchange Schedule, Respondent was not required to file any exhibits on the issue of the value of the subject property unless the Hearing Officer determined that Complainant had made a prima facie case for the relief sought.Since Complainant did not meet his burden of proof Respondent was not ordered to file exhibits.In the event that the Commission upon an application for review, or a court upon a petition for judicial review should determine that the Hearing Officer erred in not conducting an evidentiary hearing, Respondent will be permitted to file and exchange exhibits on the issue of the true value in money of the subject property prior to the holding of any evidentiary hearing ordered to be held by the Commission or a Court.
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.
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.The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property is assessed at set percentages of true value in money.In an overvaluation appeal, true value in money for the property being appealed determined based upon the evidence on the record that is probative on the issue of the fair market value of the property under appeal.
Presumption In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption.It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainant.The presumption is not evidence of value.
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.In the present appeal, the evidence tendered by Mr. Cibulka did not rise to the level of substantial and persuasive to either rebut the presumption of correct assessment or show what the fair market value that should have been placed on the property as of 1/1/11.See, Complainant Failed To Prove Value, infra.
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.True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use.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.
Complainant did not present a conclusion of value shown to be established under the Standard For Valuation.
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.Complainant did not present an opinion of value established by any recognized appraisal methodology.
Complainant Failed To Prove Value
In order to prevail, Complainant 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, 2011.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.”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.
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.
Submission On Complainant’s Exhibits
The present appeal was set for evidentiary hearing.The Hearing Officer elected to place the appeal under an order for Complainant to submit his exhibits and narrative statement on the issue to fair market value to ascertain if a prima facie case was going to be presented.Absent the filing of evidence by Complainant to establish a prima facie case, there was no reason to hold an evidentiary hearing.
Complainant’s Exhibit A provides no relevant evidence to establish based upon any recognized appraisal methodology that the fair market value of the subject property on 1/1/11 was only $11,000.The statements made in Exhibit A do not rebut the presumption of correct assessment or establish value.The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.The claims asserted in Exhibit A do not establish that the opinion of the owner as to the value of his property is based upon proper elements or a proper foundation.
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.”In the present case, the Hearing Officer has only speculation, conjecture and surmise presented on behalf of the Complainant, as to the true value in money of the property under appeal as of 1/1/11.The assertions in Exhibit A, even if each and every one of them were deemed to be true, simply do not provide any logical or rational basis upon which the Hearing Officer can conclude the value as proposed by Mr. Cibulka.
Accordingly, Complainant failed to prove the fair market value of his property.A prima facie case was not established.It would serve no purpose to order Respondent to present evidence on the issue of value when Complainant has failed to meet his burden of proof.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2011 and 2012 is set at $5,700.
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, 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. 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 October 3, 2012.
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 3rd day of October, 2012, to:Carl Cibulka, 1421, Coolidge Dr., St. Louis, MO 63132, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, Attorney for Respondent, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; Eugene Leung, Director of Revenue, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.
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
 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)
 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).
 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).
Substantial and persuasive evidence is not an extremely high standard of evidentiary proof.It is the lowest of the three standards for evidence (substantial & persuasive, clear and convincing, and beyond a reasonable doubt).It requires a small amount of evidence to cross the threshold to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.The definitions, relevant to substantial evidence, do not support a position that substantial and persuasive evidence is an extremely or very high standard.
“Substantial evidence: Evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion; evidence beyond a scintilla.”Black’s Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition, p. 580.
The word scintilla is defined as “1. a spark,2. a particle; the least trace.” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition.Black’s definition at 1347 is “A spark or trace <the standard is that there must be more than a scintilla of evidence>.”There must be more than a spark or trace for evidence to have attained the standard of substantial.Once there is something more than a spark or trace the evidence has reached the level of substantial.Substantial evidence and the term preponderance of the evidence are essentially the same.“Preponderance of the evidence.The greater weight of the evidence; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other.”Black’s at 1201.Substantial evidence is that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support the conclusion.Preponderance is sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other, i.e. support the proposed conclusion.
 Section 138.431.5 RSM provides in relevant part: “Unless an appeal is voluntarily dismissed, a hearing officer, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity for fair hearing, 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.”See also, 12 CSR 30-3.080 (2).
 Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).