DANIEL KOEHLER v. GAIL MCCANN BEATTY, ASSESSOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI

June 3rd, 2022

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

DANIEL KOEHLER, )
Complainant(s), ) Appeal No. 21-30104
v. ) Parcel/locator No(s): 61-440-09-38-00-0-00-000
GAIL MCCANN BEATTY, )
ASSESSOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI, )
Respondent. )

DECISION AND ORDER

Daniel Koehler (Complainant) appeals the Jackson County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property owned by C.C.K. LLC, on January 1, 2021, was $1,800,000. Complainant does not have standing in the appeal. As Complainant does not have standing to prosecute the appeal, the State Tax Commission (STC) is without jurisdiction and must dismiss.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 20, 2022, Respondent, through counsel, Jennifer Ware, filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that Complainant had not established that he was the record owner of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, and thus failed to follow administrative procedure. The Motion alleged “on October 15, 2021, C.C.K., LLC was listed as the owner of the property according to Jackson County records and according to Jackson County records, KPS Equity Capital LLC purchased the property on February 25, 2022.” Respondent further requested that the Motion be heard. On April 20, 2022, Complainant sent responsive email correspondence to the Commission stating the property owners had given him permission to file the appeal and act as their agent regarding the 2021 tax year. With this correspondence, Complainant attached a “Sale Contract Signed 1204 6-11-21” for the subject property, which includes a section 22, titled “tax appeal.” Complainant’s correspondence notes that “the seller granted express permission in section 22 for [Complainant] to file an appeal on their behalf, and that this right would continue after closing.”

On May 11, 2022, a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss was conducted. Complainant appeared pro se.   Respondent was represented by counsel, Jennifer Ware. At the hearing, Respondent argued that Complainant failed to provide evidence of ownership for the subject property as of January 1, 2021, and that Complainant’s contract was insufficient evidence of Complainant’s ownership of the subject parcel in that appeal because, based on the existing county records, C.C.K. LLC was the owner of said property when the appeal was filed. Complainant testified at the hearing that he was neither an attorney nor the owner of the property on January 1, 2021, but he was authorized to bring the appeal for the owners by the power granted within the contract language.

FINDINGS OF FACT

  1. Subject Property. The subject property is commercial real property located at 1204 SW Jefferson St, Lees Summit, Jackson County, Missouri. It is identified by parcel locator number 61-440-09-38-00-0-00-000.
  2. Valuation. The BOE determined the TVM for the subject property on January 1, 2021, is $1,800,000.
  3. Jurisdiction. The STC lacks authority or jurisdiction over this appeal because Complainant was not the owner of the subject property and did not have the statutory right to appeal.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION

Appeals to the local board of equalization shall be made by the aggrieved taxpayer in the manner required by law. Section 137.275.[1]

Every owner of real property or tangible personal property shall have the right to appeal from the local boards of equalization to the state tax commission. Section 138.430.1.

Upon compliance with Missouri law and the rules set by the State Tax Commission (STC), in any appeal taken to the STC from the local board of equalization, a natural person may represent himself/herself in the proceedings before the STC. 12 CSR 30-3.010(1) and (2). The county assessor, but not the deputy, may represent his/her office in such proceedings. Id. All others must appear through an attorney licensed to practice law in Missouri or in another jurisdiction. Id. As this statutory authority and the STC’s administrative rules provide, a taxpayer must have standing in order to prosecute an appeal before this tribunal and is prohibited from representing others unless he or she is a licensed attorney.

Complainant filed this appeal with the STC in his name. Complainant testified he is not a licensed attorney acting to represent the property owners. In the Complaint for Review of Assessment, Complainant signed his name stating that he is the aggrieved taxpayer. However, Complainant has not shown that he owned the subject property on January 1, 2021. In Missouri, ownership is conveyed through a deed. Section 442.380 provides “Every instrument in writing that conveys any real estate, or whereby any real estate may be affected, in law or equity, proved or acknowledged and certified in the manner herein prescribed, shall be recorded in the office of the recorder of the county in which such real estate is situated.” The parties agree a deed transferring ownership to Complainant was recorded on February 25, 2022. Therefore, Complainant’s ability to appeal did not occur until that date. Complainant did submit a signed contract from the owner that conveys him the right to bring any appeal for the subject property. However, a contract does not give Complainant standing in these appeals, ownership does. Section 138.430.1. Therefore, because Complainant has not proven ownership, Complainant cannot proceed with this appeal.  See Id.

Further, Complainant cannot remedy that defect now. Although in a different context, we find the Court’s decision in Bray v. Lee, 620 S.W.3d 278 (Mo. App. E.D. 2021), instructive. The Court held that a purported property owner failed to establish that he had an ownership interest or some other legally protectable interest in the property at issue in that case at the time the alleged damages occurred or at the time the litigation was commenced and that he could not cure that defect at a later time during the action. Id. at 281-283.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

 Complainant was not the owner of the subject property and did not have the statutory right to appeal. Therefore, for the reasons stated above, Complainant’s appeal is dismissed.

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.

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Jackson 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 June 3, 2022.

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

Erica M. Gage

Senior Hearing Officer

Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on June 3, 2022, to:

Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.

Amy S. Westermann

Chief Counsel

[1] All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.