David Oatman v. Rick Kessinger, Assessor, Greene County

July 31st, 2020

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

 

DAVID OATMAN,                                            )

Complainant,                                                     )     Appeal No. 19-33018

)     Parcel No. 12-049-200

 

RICK KESSINGER, ASSESSOR,                    )

GREENE COUNTY, MISSOURI,                   )

Respondent.                                                       )

 

DECISION AND ORDER

            David Oatman (Complainant) appeals an assessment by the Greene County Assessor (Respondent) valuing Complainant’s personal property at $22,000 as of January 1, 2019, and setting the assessed value at $7,330. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence proving his claim of overvaluation. The assessment is affirmed.

Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent appeared through Counsel Aaron Klusmeyer. The evidentiary hearing was conducted on March 10, 2020, at the Greene County Historic Courthouse in Springfield, Missouri.

FINDINGS OF FACT

  1. Authority. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission (STC).
  2. The Subject Property. The subject property is a 2006 Airstream Classic travel trailer.
  3. Board of Equalization. There was no Board of Equalization hearing. Complainant was notified of the increased assessment upon receipt of the tax bill.
  4. Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant offered Exhibit A as an appraisal of the subject property. Exhibit A was prepared by a third party who was not present at the evidentiary hearing.   Exhibit A was excluded from the record because it was inadmissible hearsay.

Complainant credibly testified the subject property is in good condition and is superior to other travel trailers. Complainant testified personal property typically decreases in value over time and the subject property is overvalued because the assessed value increased from the prior assessment. Complainant proposed an assessed value of $3,570, which equates to a market value of $10,700. Complainant is not an appraiser.

  1. Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1. Exhibit 1 is a page from the October 2018 NADA Guide showing the average used trade-in value of the subject property was $22,000. Respondent’s staff appraiser testified the October 2018 issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA Guide) Recreation Vehicle Appraisal Guide was used to determine the fair market value of the subject property. Exhibit 1 was admitted into evidence.
  2. Value. The true value in money of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $22,000. The assessed value for 2019 was $7,330.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

  1. Authority

The STC has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal. Section 138.430.1; 12 CSR 30-3.010.1.

  1. Assessment

            Personal property is assessed “at thirty-three and one-third percent of its true value in money as of January first of each calendar year[.]” Section 137.115.1, RSMo 2000.[1]   The true value in money “is an estimate of the fair market value on the valuation date.” Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Comm’n, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). 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).

  1. Complainant’s Burden of Proof

In a Commission tax appeal, the taxpayer bears the burden of proof and “must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was improperly classified or valued.”  Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The taxpayer must show, with “substantial and persuasive” evidence, the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005). “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 v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 77 (Mo. banc 1986) (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 a “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).

  1. Evidence

The hearing officer is the finder of fact, and determines both the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Missouri Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. 2015); Stone v. Missouri Dep’t of Health & Senior Servs., 350 S.W.3d 14, 20 (Mo. banc 2011) (noting that in a contested case, courts defer to administrative agency findings of fact); see also section 536.090 (requiring all decisions and orders in contested cases to include “findings of fact”). 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.

“Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977). The hearsay rule is a fundamental rule of evidence applicable in administrative hearings. Speer v. City of Joplin, 839 S.W.2d 359, 360 (Mo. App. 1992). “Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted.” State v. McFadden, 391 S.W.3d 408, 431 (Mo. banc 2013). “Hearsay evidence is objectionable because the person who makes the statement offered is not under oath and is not subject to cross-examination.” Saint Louis Univ. v. Geary, 321 S.W.3d 282, 291 (Mo. banc 2009). Hearsay is inadmissible unless an exception applies. Id.

Respondent timely objected to Exhibit A as inadmissible hearsay. Exhibit A is hearsay because it was prepared by a third party who was not present at the evidentiary hearing and consisted of statements offered to prove the value of the subject property. No recognized hearsay exception applies. Exhibit A is inadmissible hearsay.

  1. Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation

Because Exhibit A is inadmissible, Complainant’s overvaluation claim rests on his assertion the increased assessment shows overvaluation because personal property typically decreases in value. Even if personal property typically decreases in value, Complainant produced no evidence showing this assumption applies to the subject property. Further, Complainant produced no evidence showing the market value of the subject property as derived from trade in values, comparable sales of 2006 Airstream Classic travel trailers, or any other valuation method. Complainant did not produce persuasive evidence of value of the subject property in order to prove overvaluation.

Respondent’s Exhibit 1 further undermines Complainant’s overvaluation claim. Exhibit 1 shows the trade-in value of the subject property in late 2018 was $22,000, not $10,700 as proposed by Complainant. The trade-in value listed in Exhibit 1 supports Respondent’s assessment.

Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. The assessment is affirmed.

Conclusion and Order

The fair market value of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $22,000. The assessed value was $7,330.

Application for Review

            A party may file with the STC an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the date indicated in the certificate of service. 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 of Missouri, 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 in the certificate of service.

Disputed Taxes

            The Collector of Greene County, and 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 the taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order pursuant to section 139.031.

 

SO ORDERED July 31, 2020.

Senior Hearing Officer

State Tax Commission

Certificate of Service

On July 31, 2020, a copy of the foregoing was emailed to Complainant, davidoatman@missouristate.edu; Respondent, rkessinger@greenecountymo.gov; aklusmeyer@lowtherjohnson.com; and Greene County Collector, lbetts@greenecountymo.gov

Elaina McKee

Legal Coordinator

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