STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 21-84004|
|)||Parcel No. 09-30-07-02-031-0001.00|
|Eric Dugal, Assessor,||)|
|St. Francois County, Missouri||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Dennis LaBruyere (Complainant) appeals the St. Francois County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $21,180. Complainant alleges overvaluation and asserts the TVM was $20,160. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $21,180.
The evidentiary hearing was held on March 17, 2022, at the St. Francois County Annex Building in Farmington, Missouri. The parties appeared pro se.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property. The subject residential real property is located at 19 Hill Street in Park Hills, Missouri. The subject property consists of a 12,600 square-foot lot improved with a one-story, 868 square-foot home, with two bedrooms and one full bath. The home includes an attached carport. The home was built in 1920.
- Assessment and Valuation. The BOE determined the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $21,180. The BOE decision indicates this value represents a reduction from the “previous market” value of $22,740.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant introduced Exhibit A. Respondent did not object. Exhibit A was admitted into evidence.
Exhibit A consists of Complainant’s Social Security benefit statement and three pages of website printouts indicating the poverty and crime rates for Park Hills, Missouri. The printouts indicate the poverty rate is 29.6% and that property crimes and violent crimes have increased in Park Hills in recent years. There is no real estate market data or analysis tying the poverty or crime rate to property values.
Complainant testified the subject’s land is contaminated with lead. Like Exhibit A, Complainant’s testimony does not reference any real estate market data or analysis quantifying the effect of the alleged contamination on value or showing that the BOE value does not account for the alleged lead contamination.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent introduced Exhibits 1 through 7. Complainant did not object. Exhibits 1 through 7 were admitted into evidence. Respondent’s exhibits are summarized as follows:
|Exhibit 1||Property Record Card (PRC) for the subject property showing lot size, improvement dimensions, and noting roof damage and a large crack on the carport floor. The PRC includes color photographs of the subject property. The PRC values the subject property at $21,180.|
|Exhibit 2||Comparable Search Report identifying five comparable properties. The sale prices were $23,500, $72,900, $28,500, $31,500, and $32,000. The sales occurred between June 2018 and January 2020.|
|Exhibit 3||PRC for Sale 1.|
|Exhibit 4||PRC for Sale 2.|
|Exhibit 5||PRC for Sale 3.|
|Exhibit 6||PRC for Sale 4.|
|Exhibit 7||PRC for Sale 5.|
- Value. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $21,180.
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). The TVM is “the fair market value of the property on the valuation date[.]” 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). “True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange not value in use.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020) (internal quotation omitted). “Determining the true value in money is an issue of fact for the STC.” Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008).
“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. The STC has wide discretion in selecting the appropriate valuation method but “cannot base its decision on opinion evidence that fails to consider information that should have been considered under a particular valuation approach.” Id., at 348.
- Evidence. “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 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).
- 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. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs, 599 S.W.3d at 7. The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). The taxpayer also 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 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 the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).
- Complainant Did Not Produce Substantial and Persuasive Evidence of Overvaluation.
The comparable sales approach is typically used to value residential properties improved with a single-family home. “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.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). Complainant offered no evidence of comparable sales or any evidence relevant to estimating value by the income approach or the cost approach.
Complainant testified the property’s value was reduced by lead contamination. But there was no evidence providing a way to quantify the effect of the alleged contamination on value or showing the BOE value does not account for the alleged contamination.
While a property owner’s opinion of value is generally admissible, the opinion lacks “probative value where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.” Shelby Cty. R-IV Sch. Dist. v. Herman, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Mo. 1965); see also Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 349 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) (noting a property owner’s opinion of value loses probative value when it rests on an improper foundation). Complainant presented no sales, income, or cost data pertinent to establishing the TVM of the subject property. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence showing a further reduction in value due to lead contamination. Complainant’s evidence does not provide the necessary foundation and elements to support his overvaluation claim. Because the STC “cannot base its decision on opinion evidence that fails to consider information that should have been considered” under a recognized approach to value, Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348, the BOE decision is affirmed.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE’s decision finding the TVM of subject property on January 1, 2021, was $21,180 is affirmed.
Application for Review
A party may file 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 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 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. Francois 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 disputed taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of section 139.031.
SO ORDERED April 8, 2022.
Eric S. Peterson
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 April 8, 2022, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 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, sec. 14; Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.