State Tax Commission of Missouri
CLARA E. SAUTER,)
v.) Appeal Number 10-50501
DAVID STOKELY ASSESSOR,)
CHRISTIAN COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the Christian County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is SET ASIDE.True value in money for the subject property for tax year 2010 is set at $222,000, residential assessed value of $42,180.Complainant appeared pro se.Respondent appeared by County Counselor John Housley.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Christian 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, 2009.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 Christian County Board of Equalization.A hearing was conducted on December 6, 2010, at the Christian County Courthouse, Ozark, Missouri.
3.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 1360 N. Sandy Creek Circle, Nixa, Missouri.The property is identified by map parcel number 10-1-12-1-16-403.004.The property is a condominium further identified as Unit 4, Building c Autumn Corners at Copper Leaf Phase 3.The property has a base gross living area of 1794 square feet and an adjusted gross living area of 2,138 square feet.It was built in 2009.The condominium was purchased by Complainant in May, 2009 for $222,000.
4.Complainant’s Evidence.Ms. Sauter testified in her own behalf.She stated that here opinion of value of what the property as it existed on January 1, 2010, would have been worth on January 1, 2009 to be $140,000.The taxpayer’s opinion of value was based on the documents contained in Exhibit A.Counsel for Respondent objected to Exhibit A on the grounds of hearsay, relevance, lack of foundation, owner not qualified as an expert to testify as to comparable properties.The objection was sustained.Exhibit A was excluded from evidence.See, Owner’s Opinion of Value – Exhibit A, infra.
The subject condo unit was completed in 2009.Therefore the assessed value for 2010 is based upon what would have been the appraised value of the completed condominium as if it had so existed on January 1, 2009.
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, 2010, to be $140,000.
5.Teresa Hall Information.At the request of Complainant, Teresa Hall, developer of the subject development, was permitted to testify.Ms. Hall provided the Hearing Officer with a packet of documents.It was not tendered by Complainant as an exhibit.Neither Ms. Hall’s testimony nor documents provided any information relevant to establish the true value in money for the 2010 tax year to be $140,000.Ms. Hall was not qualified as an expert in the appraisal of real property; she had not appraised the property and offered no opinion of value.
6.Respondent’s Evidence.Respondent presented the testimony of Marian Matthews, Deputy Assessor.She testified to the valuation history of the subject property.Respondent offered into evidence Exhibit 1 which was received.
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 must be 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 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 this instance, the testimony of Ms. Sauter, Ms. Matthews and Exhibit 1 establishing the May 29, 2009 purchase price of $222,000 rebuts the presumption of correct assessment and establishes value as of January 1 2009 for the completed condominium unit to be $222,000.
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.
The purchase of the property under appeal by Complainant on May 29, 2009 at a price of $222,000 satisfies 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. The actual sale price of the property under appeal may be relied upon in determining fair market value.
Complainant Failed To Prove Value of $140,000
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.
Owner’s Opinion of 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 owner of the subject property cannot testify regarding comparable sales without being qualified as an expert on valuation of real estate.Ms. Sauter’s opinion of value was based on the sale of a single property in May 2010 for $140,000.It was the owner’s position that the sale price of the subject should be reduced by $82,000 based on this single sale.
This methodology is not a recognized appraisal practice.Accordingly, the owner’s opinion of value has no basis in fact established in the record, or any basis in a recognized approach to the appraisal of real property.The opinion of a value of $140,000 can be given no probative weight, since it was not shown to be based upon proper elements or a proper foundation.The date of sale of the $140,000 property being nearly eighteen months after the valuation date of January 1, 2009, is further evidence which weighs against giving any weight to the owner’s opinion.Furthermore, the actual sale of the subject at a time relevant to the valuation date of January 1, 2009, rebuts the asserted value of $140,000. See, Sale of Subject, infra.
The Hearing Officer makes the following review of the documents in Exhibit A as to their lack of probative value.Counsel for Respondent objected to Exhibit A on the grounds of hearsay, lack of foundation, the witness not being qualified as an expert to testify as to comparable properties and relevance.For purposes of this discussion the Hearing Officer has identified the individual documents under the headings or descriptions given.
1.STC Order Assigning Case and Setting Evidentiary Hearing.This document is part of the Commission file, but has no probative value on the issue of fair market value of the property under appeal.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
2.Hearing Location Letter.Letter dated 11/5/10 informing Ms. Sauter of the location of the hearing in the appeal.It has no probative value.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
3.Complaint for Review of Assessment Transmission Letter.The letter lists the enclosures that make up the rest of the Exhibit; however, the document presents no evidence to establish a value for the subject condo of $140,000.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
4.Copy of Complaint for Review of Assessment.This is part of the Commission file, but other than giving the Taxpayer’s Proposed Value – $140,000 it contains no factual data to establish that value.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
5.Board of Equalization Decision Letter.This is part of the Commission file, but provides no evidence to establish fair market value.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
6.Notice of Change in Assessed Value.This simply establishes that the Assessor increased the appraised and assessed values from 2009 to 2010 due to the new construction of the subject condo unit.It provides no evidence of a true value in money for the 2010 tax year of $140,000 for the property under appeal.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
7.Notice of Board of Equalization Hearing.This letter simply notified Ms. Sauter that he Board hearing was set for 1:20 p.m. on July 19th.There is no evidence addressing the fair market value of the subject property.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
8.Newspaper Article.There is no relevant evidence contained in this article.It is hearsay.It is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
9.Board of Equalization Appeal Form.This copy of the appeal form to the BOE provides no evidence that the fair market value of the subject property for the 2010 tax year would be $140,000.It is admitted in the document that the taxpayer purchased the property for $222,000 on May 29, 2009.The reference to a property like the subject selling on May 28, 2010 for $140,000 is hearsay, lacking a proper foundation for admission into evidence.The document is not relevant to the issue of overvaluation.
10.Photographs of Subject.The document shows two photographs of the subject, with a typed statement.Photographs do not tell value, they only show that a given photograph depicts.There is no dispute as to what the property under appeal looks like.Nothing in the document is probative of what the true value in money for the 2010 tax year would be.The document is irrelevant.
11.Closing Statement on Complainant’s May, 2009 Purchase.The document only proves that Ms. Sauter purchased the subject condo for $222,000.There is nothing to support the owner’s opinion of $140,000.
12.Photographs of Subject Street.Three photographs of the subject street, but nothing to prove a true value in money of $140,000.The document is irrelevant.
13.Property List.The document provides information on eight different properties on Sandy Creed Circle.It is hearsay.Listing of unadjusted data on other properties does not constitute an appraisal on the property under appeal.There is no conclusion of value reached under a comparable sales approach.There is no proper foundation for the information contained in the document and it is therefore irrelevant.
14.Closing Statement.This document is a closing statement dated 11/6/2006 on property at 1404 N. Sandy Creek Circle # A-1, purported to be the same type unit as the subject condo.It sold for $205,000.The document is hearsay, has no foundation for admission into evidence and is irrelevant to prove the value of the subject for the 2010 tax year.
15.Closing Statement.This document is a closing statement dated 5/28/10 on the property in item 14.It shows a sale price of $140,000.The document is hearsay and inadmissible.The actual sale price of the subject in May 2009 at $222,000 rebuts any probative weight that might be given to the sale reflected by this closing statement.
16.Property List.The document contains a chart with a list of 12 properties on E. Kings Mead Circle.List/Sell amounts range from $159,900 to $239,000.The document is hearsay, lacks a foundation to establish any relevance to the value of the subject for the 2010 tax year.The document does not constitute an appraisal of the subject.
17.Photographs of Subject Subdivision.The document contains five photographs of the subject development showing that it is not completed, with type written comments by Complainant.The type written comments are hearsay.The photographs and comments lack any relevance to establish the value of the property under appeal for the 2010 tax year.
18.Page from Property Record Card.The document is the same as that contained in Exhibit 1.However, the document provides no evidence in support of Ms. Sauter’s opinion of $140,000.
19.New Construction Questionnaire.This document is the same as the document in Exhibit 1.It establishes that Complainant purchased the property under appeal on May 29, 2009 for $222,000 and that the condominium was completed on that date.Ms. Sauter had testified to this information before Exhibit A was tendered.The document is only evidence of the true value in money at a time relevant to January 1, 2009, was $222,000 and not $140,000.
20.List of 2009 Appraised Values – Autumn Corners.The document is a list of the condominium units in the Autumn Corners development.It lists the units by parcel number, floor plan, base and adjusted square footage, 2009 Appraised Value, Phase, Building and Unit numbers and Sales prices.The document is hearsay without a proper foundation for its admission into the record.It does not constitute an appraisal of the subject property under any accepted appraisal methodology and established that the subject sold for $222,000.
21.Section 137.115, RSMo.A copy of the portion of Section 137.115.1 which provides that for new construction and improvements made to real property during an odd-numbered year, that the new construction and improvements for the following even-numbered year shall be valued as if they had been completed and in place on January 1st of the preceding odd-numbered year.This statute has been applied in the present case.
22.News Paper Articles.The documents consist of copies of four newspaper articles on the Christian County Board of Equalization, foreclosures, homeownership and a sink hole in the subject development.The documents are irrelevant hearsay.
23.Tax Bills.The document consists of copies of the 2009 and 2010 tax bills on Ms. Sauter’s property.The documents are irrelevant.They have no probative benefit to prove value of the Complainant’s property.The property was assessed and taxed for the 2009 tax year as it existed on January 1, 2009, i.e. without a completed condominium unit.For 2010, the property was assessed and taxed as it existed on January 1, 2010, i.e. with a completed condominium unit.
Sale of Subject
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.The sale of the subject in May 2009 establishes the true value in money of the property for the 2010 tax year.
The sale in May 2009 is at a time that is not remote from the valuation date of January 1, 2009.The transaction met all of the criteria required under the Standard For Valuation, supra.The May 2009 transaction is the only evidence in the record that established a market basis for the true value in money of the subject.The sale establishes what a willing buyer and seller actually agreed to as the purchase price for the property under appeal and there is no evidence to establish that any downward adjustment is warranted to account for the time difference between January 1, and May 29, 2009.
Conclusion of Value
The mandate of the Constitution requires that value be concluded from the evidence presented in the appeal.See, Basis of Assessment, supra.This evidentiary record rebuts the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.The May, 2009 sale of the subject established that the Board’s assessment had undervalued the property under appeal.The true value in money for the property for the 2010 tax year is $222,000.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for Christian County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2010 is set at $42,180.
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.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 Christian 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.If no Application for Review is filed with the Commission within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service, the Collector, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
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 January 24, 2011.
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 24th day of January, 2011, to:Clara Sauter, 1360 N. Sandy Creek Cir. Unit 4, Nixa, MO 65714, Complainant; John Housley, 901 St. Louis, 20th Floor, Springfield, MO 65806, Attorney for Respondent; David Stokely, Assessor, 100 W. Church, Room 301, Ozark, MO 65721-0334; Kay Brown, Clerk, 100 W. Church, Room 206, Ozark, MO 65721-0549; Ted Nichols, Collector, P.O. Box 579, Ozark, MO 65721.
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
 The packet of documents consisted of the following: (1) a cover letter with general information about the subject development and the circumstances of the development in December 2010; (2) Ms. Sauter’s Closing Statement on the purchase of the subject (this is duplicative of Exhibit 1); (3) a copy of a city of Nixa inspection report dated 2/17/09; (4) A listing of condo units and the 2009 taxes on each unit; (5) seven pages of reports from Missouri Case Net on the Sandra Bryant-Littles case; (6) Eleven pages of copies of newspaper articles on the Bryant-Littles case; (7) a copy of a new article on the appointment of David Stokely as assessor; and (8) two articles on a sinkhole requiring the lake in the subject subdivision to be drained in December 2010.No foundation was laid by either the testimony of the witness or the cover letter to establish the relevance of any of the documents to establishing true value in money of the subject property for the 2010 tax year.With the exception of the Closing Statement, the documents consist of immaterial hearsay.
 Exhibit 1 consisted of a summary of the assessment history of the property, photographs and a floor plan of the subject, the property record card for the subject, a copy pages 1, 3 & 4 of the pamphlet – The Property Tax in Missouri, a comparison of Assessor’s appraised values on the subject and six neighboring properties in the subject subdivision and a copy of the 2010 Change Notice.
 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).
 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).
 Complainant was informed, by the Hearing Officer, at the close of her testimony and offering of Exhibit A that she had failed to meet her burden of proof, but that her testimony that the property had been purchased in May 2009 had established the value of $222,000.Ms. Sauter was further informed by the Hearing Officer that she had the right at that time or at any time prior to the Hearing Officer issuing his Decision to dismiss her appeal and the value would remain at $207,300.Ms. Sauter declined to dismiss her appeal.After further discussion, Counsel for Respondent also urged the taxpayer to dismiss her appeal.She declined to do so.The Hearing Officer took a recess and left the hearing room to permit Ms. Hall and two of Ms. Sauter’s neighbors to talk to her about dismissing her appeal.Upon resuming the evidentiary hearing, the Hearing Officer again inquired of Ms. Sauter if she would be willing to simply dismiss the appeal.She declined to do so and maintained that she wanted a decision to be rendered in the appeal.