STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-11026|
|)||Parcel No. 13N120194|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Daniel Hyatt (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $72,000, with an assessed value of $13,680. Complainant asserts claims of overvaluation and discrimination and proposes a value of $0 to $10,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing either of his claims. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was conducted on April 14, 2021, via WebEx. Complainant was represented by counsel Terry Pabst. Respondent was represented by counsel Steven Robson.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 146 Cumberland in St. Louis County, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 13N120194.
The subject property consists of a single family home that has two bedrooms and one full bath. (Ex. 1 at 1.)
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $104,600. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $72,000.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $0 to $10,000. Complainant testified in support of his opinion of value and submitted the following exhibits:
|A||Lease for subject property dated October 29, 2016.||Admitted|
|B||Letter to tenants of subject property from Complainant indicating that they have three days to pay rent or quit the property dated July 8, 2017.||Admitted|
|C||Field Correction Notice, City of Maryland Heights, dated July 13, 2017.||Admitted|
|D||Municipal summons to Complainant dated February 1, 2018.||Admitted|
|E||Guilty verdict for failure to obtain occupancy permit (owner) before allowing tenant to occupy.||Admitted|
|F||Field Correction Notice, City of Maryland Heights, dated February 8, 2018.||Admitted|
|G||Field Correction Notice, City of Maryland Heights, dated May 1, 2018.||Admitted|
|H||Field Correction Notice, City of Maryland Heights, June 27, 2018.||Admitted|
|I||Letter from Complainant to Building Commissioner Paul Garlock about request for occupancy permit for the subject property dated July 7, 2018.||Admitted|
|J||Letter from Commissioner Garlock to Complainant about residential occupancy permit dated July 24, 2018.||Admitted|
|K||U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspection checklist with date of last inspection of October 22, 2018.||Admitted|
|R||Second Amended Petition, case number 18SL-CC03358, filed in the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial District by Complainant and others against the City of Maryland Heights and others alleging four counts including claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. sections 1983-1988 and regulatory taking, inverse condemnation, Missouri Constitution Art. I, sections 10 and 26, dated January 6, 2020.||Admitted|
Respondent objected to Exhibit I to the extent that the letter contains hearsay. Exhibit I was received into evidence subject to the objection to be given the weight it is due. Respondent did not object to Exhibits A through D, E through H, J, K, and R, and these exhibits were received into evidence. Complainant asserts that the value of the subject property is $0 to $10,000 because he believes that the City of Maryland Heights has administratively taken the subject property.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, the BOE’s October 4, 2019, Findings and Notice of Decision, and Exhibit 2, the property record card for the subject property. Complainant did not object, and Exhibits 1 and 2 were received into evidence.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $72,000, with an assessed value of $13,680.
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. Section 137.115.5(1)(a). “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.” 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). Determining the TVM is a factual issue for the STC. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).
“For purposes of levying property taxes, the value of real property is typically determined using one or more of three generally accepted approaches.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The three generally accepted approaches are the cost approach, the income approach, and the comparable sales approach. Id. at 346-48; see also St. Louis Cty. v. Sec. Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977). The comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348. “The comparable sales approach uses prices paid for similar properties in arms-length transactions and adjusts those prices to account for differences between the properties.” Id. at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). “Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.” Id. at 348.
- 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). The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony. Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012). “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The hearing officer “may inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property.” Section 138.430.2.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was overvalued or misclassified. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous” and 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, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (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”).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous and that his opinion of value, $0 to $10,000, was the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019. Although Complainant presented exhibits and testimony about his difficulty in obtaining an occupancy permit and his belief that the City of Maryland Heights has administratively taken the subject property, Complainant’s evidence does not rebut the presumption of correctness of the BOE’s valuation. Complainant did not present any generally accepted valuation approach in support of his opinion of value. Further, under cross examination, Complainant testified that a tenant lived on the subject property as of January 1, 2019, and that Complainant received rent. (Tr. Pt. 2 43:14-44:45.) Such evidence shows that the subject property was habitable, producing value for Complainant, and properly valued at more than the de minimis amount of $0 to $10,000. Therefore, Complainant’s testimony and exhibits do not rebut the presumption of correct valuation by the BOE.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $72,000, with an assessed value of $13,680.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission 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, 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, 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.
SO ORDERED December 3, 2021.
Laura A. Storck-Elam
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 December 3, 2021, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 Complainant neither alleged nor presented evidence of intentional discrimination by Respondent. Additionally, Complainant did not present any evidence about the valuation of any other properties. “A mere overvaluation of a specific property does not establish discrimination in the absence of a showing of an intentional plan of discrimination or a showing that there is an undervaluation in the average assessment, or that other property generally is undervalued.” Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n, 329 S.W.2d 696, 700 (Mo. 1959).
 The Complaint for Review of Assessment lists $0 as the proposed value. During the evidentiary hearing, Complainant testified that he believes the value of the subject property is “de minimis, at best, but no more than $10,000.” (Tr. Pt. 1 37:15-40.)
 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, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
 Exhibits D1, L, M, N, O, P, Q and S were submitted prior to the evidentiary hearing but not offered and received into evidence.
 Missouri operates on a two-year reassessment cycle for valuing real property. See Section 137.115.1. Absent new construction or improvements to a parcel of real property, the assessed value as of January 1 of the odd year remains the assessed value as of January 1 of the following even year. Id.