State Tax Commission of Missouri
|DONALD AND MARTHA ABBOTT||)|
|v.||)||Appeal # 15-32796|
|SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. CHARLES CO., MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.
Complainants did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization regarding valuation.
True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2015 and 2016 is set at $308,565, residential assessed value of $58,627.
Complainants Donald and Martha Abbott appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by attorney Amanda Jennings
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu.
Complainants appeal, on the grounds of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization, which sustained the assessment of the subject property. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the assessed value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2015. The assessment as of January 1 of the odd numbered year remains the assessment as of January 1 of the following even numbered year unless there is new construction and improvement to the property. Section 137.115.1 RSMo
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization.
- Evidentiary Hearing. The Evidentiary Hearing was held on April 14, 2016 at St. Charles County Administration Building, St. Charles, Missouri.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by map parcel number or locator number 4-069B-9565-00-0005. It is further identified as 809 Kingsgate Drive, O’Fallon, St. Charles County, Missouri. (Complaint for Review of Assessment & Exhibit 1)
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of a lot of .15 acres (Ex. 1). Such is improved by a residential attached villa in the Kingsgate condo subdivision, with 2,000 square feet of living area. Amenities of such include 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms on the main level, a full bath in the basement, a fireplace, a covered porch, a patio and a 2 car garage. (Exhibit 1).
- Purchase of Subject Property. The subject property was purchased by Complainants in November of 2013 for $288,500. (Exhibit 1 and D)
- Assessment. The Assessor valued the property at $308,565, residential assessed value of $58,627. The Board of Equalization sustained assessor’s valuation. (Complaint for Review of Assessment)
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant offered into evidence the following:
|Exhibit A||Picture and Documents Re: 855 Kingsgate, Sold 12/2015||X||Yes|
|Exhibit B||Picture and Documents Re: 833 Kingsgate, under Contract||X||Yes|
|Exhibit C||Picture and Documents Re: 807 Kingsgate, under Contact||X||Yes|
|Exhibit D||Picture and Documents Re: 809 Kingsgate, Subject Property||X||Yes|
|Exhibit E||Comparables||X||Not Recv’d|
|Exhibit F||BOE Property Assessment Form||X||Yes|
Respondent objected to all or parts of the exhibits offered other than Exhibit F to wish there was no objection. The objection to Exhibit E was sustained and such was excluded from the evidentiary record. All other objections were overruled.
- No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016 therefore the assessed value for 2015 remains the assessed value for 2016. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered into evidence Exhibits 1. Exhibit 1 consisted of an appraisal report. Complainants objected to Exhibit 1 as to the conclusion of value by the appraiser. Complainants’ objection was overruled and the exhibit was received into the evidentiary record.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted. 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 of the subject property as of January 1, 2015, See, Presumption In Appeal, infra.
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. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.
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. Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945. The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money.
Presumption In Appeal
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization. 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). This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainants. 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. Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
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, 2015. Hermel, supra. 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 Complainants bear the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” 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.
Weight to be Given Evidence
The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, but is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled. The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide. St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).
Owner’s Opinion of Value
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value. Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970). The owner’s opinion is without probative value; however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation. 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). “Where the basis for a test as to the reliability of the testimony is not supported by a statement of facts on which it is based, or the basis of fact does not appear to be sufficient, the testimony should be rejected.” Carmel Energy at 783. A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.” See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).
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. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. 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).
It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, supra.
Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in a 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:
- Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
- Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
- A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
- Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
- 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 price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction. 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.
Complainant Fails to Proves Value
Complainants failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to establish a fair market value as of January 1, 2015, for the subject property. Complainants’ evidence as to other properties was of little to no use in establishing the actual true market value of the subject property, as all properties are different and thus do not lend themselves to a simple arithmetic application, without further substantial and persuasive evidence. Ultimately, Complainants’ evidence left the Hearing Officer “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.” See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980). Complainants did not meet his burden of proof.
Respondent’s Supports Value
Respondent’s appraiser opined a true market value of the subject property, as of January 1, 2015 to be $315,400 ($6,835 more than the Assessor and BOE values). Respondent’s appraiser developed an opinion of value relying upon an established and recognized approach for the valuation of real property, the sales comparison or market approach. The sales comparison approach is generally recognized to be the most reliable methodology to be utilized in the valuation of single-family residences. The appraiser utilized three comparable properties in her appraisal. Comparable #1 sits next door to the subject property while comparable #2 is only .07 miles from the subject property (Exhibit 1). Comparable #1 sold for $325,000 on 3/7/14. After adjustments to Comparable #1, an adjusted sales price of $315,400 was reached by the appraiser. (Exhibit 1). The adjustments made by the appraiser to all the comparables were consistent with generally accepted guidelines for the appraisal of property of the subject’s type. The adjustments properly accounted for the various differences between the subject and each comparable.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in charter counties or St. Louis City where the assessor presents evidence which indicates a valuation higher than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization, whichever is higher, for that assessment period, such evidence will only be received for the purpose of sustaining the assessor’s or board’s valuation, and not for increasing the valuation of the property under appeal. Section 138.060, RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.075. The evidence presented by the Respondent was substantial and persuasive to support the valuation by the St. Charles Board of Equalization. The assessed value under the Commission rule just cited and Supreme Court decision is AFFIRMED at $308,525. State ex rel. Ashby Road Partners, LLC et al v. STC and Muehlheausler, 297 S.W.3d 80, 87-88 (Mo 8/4/09).
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for St. Charles County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2015 & 2016 is set at $58,627, residential.
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 for this Decision. 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, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address 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, RSMo
The Collector of St. Charles 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.
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 this May 17, 2016.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
John J. Treu
Senior Hearing Officer
Delivery or Notice was made via mail, email, fax, or personally on May 17, 2016 to the following Individuals of this Order
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