State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 09-32615
SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $305,120, residential assessed value of $57,970.Complainant appeared pro se.Respondent appeared by Charissa Mayes, Assistant County Counselor
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2009.The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.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.A hearing was conducted on March 29, 2010, at the St. Charles County Administration Building, St. Charles, Missouri.
2.Assessment.The Assessor set the true value in money at $305,120 an assessed residential value of $57,970.The Board of Equalization sustained that value.
3.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 28 Lourdes Court, Lake St. Louis, Missouri.The property is identified by map parcel number 4-0056-6080-00-24 and assessor’s account number A870002230.The property consists of a 50 x 199 x 53 x 164 foot lot improved by a brick and frame, one-story, atrium ranch home on a concrete basement, with a framed rear, walk-out.The home has three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a two-car attached garage.The home was built in 1975 and has a total living area of 1,761 square feet.
4.Complainant’s Evidence.Complainant testified in his own behalf.Complainant offer into evidence Exhibit A, a list of twelve properties in the subject neighborhood, with multi-list service (MLS) data sheets for each property.Objection was made to Exhibit A on the grounds of hearsay and relevance.Objection was sustained.Exhibit A is maintained in the case file, but was excluded from evidence.Exhibit B a group of 34 photographs showing exterior and interior views of the subject home and property was received into evidence.
Complainant testified that the property had been the subject of an appraisal for purposes of refinance in 2008 or 2009.The property appraised for $350,000 and the refinance was approved.
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 as of January 1, 2009, to be $285,000, as proposed.
5.Respondent’s Evidence.Respondent presented the testimony and appraisal report of Lynne Mesey, state certified residential real estate appraiser.Ms. Mesey concluded on a fair market value of $350,000 based upon her sales comparison analysis of five properties.
Respondent’s evidence met the standard of substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the value of the subject, as of January 1, 2009, to be $350,000.By statute, Commission rule and case law, the evidence of a value higher than that determined by the Assessor and the Board could only be received to sustain the original assessed value.See, Evidence of Increase in Value, 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.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.The presumption in favor of the Board is not evidence.A presumption simply accepts something as true without any substantial proof to the contrary.In an evidentiary hearing before the Commission, the valuation determined by the Board, even if simply to sustain the value made by the Assessor, is accepted as true only until and so long as there is no substantial evidence to the contrary.The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer, or respondent when advocating a value different than that determined by the Board, presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.Complainant’s evidence failed to meet the required standard to rebut the presumption of correct assessment.The appraisal presented by Respondent was substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and establish the true value in money for the property to be $350,000.However, Respondent’s evidence could only be received to sustain the assessed value as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board.See, Evidence of Increase in Value, infra.
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.True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use.It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in 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:
1.Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
Respondent’s appraiser valued the property under appeal applying this standard of value.
Methods of Valuation
Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. Complainant did not present an opinion of value based upon any of the recognized methodologies for the valuation of property for an ad valorem tax appeal.Respondent’s appraisal presented both the cost and sales comparison approaches to value.
Complainant’s Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainant 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, 2009.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 Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.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.
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.“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.”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.”
Mr. Jefts’ opinion of value of $285,000 is not supported by any evidence.It is rebutted by the fact that the property was appraised for refinance at a time relevant to the January 1, 2009, value date at $305,000.The MLS data sheets tendered as an exhibit do not establish true value for the subject.
Taxpayers often want to present a group of such data sheets to attempt to prove fair market value.However, such raw, unadjusted data does not establish the fair market value of a property under appeal.Appraisers may rely on such documents as part of their appraisal analysis and research.However, the information contained in MLS sheets must be properly examined and then adjusted to account for variances in physical differences as between a sale property and the property being valued.Absent such adjustments the data sheets are irrelevant.
It is not the responsibility of the Hearing Officer to take such proffered information and attempt to construct an appraisal of the property.There was no foundation laid to establish that the taxpayer possessed the requisite education, training and experience so as to properly select comparable properties and then to adjust them to arrive at an opinion of fair market value for the subject.Complainant failed to prove that his opinion of value was based on proper elements or a proper foundation.Accordingly, there is no probative weight that can be given to the conclusion of value tendered by Mr. Jefts.Finally, while a single picture may be worth a thousand words in some instances, photographs demonstrate physical features of a property, but they do not prove value.The Hearing Officer has no basis looking at any or all of Complainant’s photographs to conclude any value for the subject property.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Charles County 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.The Supreme Court of Missouri has recently interpreted Section 138.060.The Court stated:
“Section 138.060 prohibits an assessor from advocating for or presenting evidence advocating for a higher ‘valuation’ than the ‘value’ finally determined by the assessor. … . Because the legislature uses the singular terms ‘valuation’ and ‘value’ in the statute, however, it clearly was not referring to both true market value and assessed value.While the assessor establishes both true market value and assessed value, which are necessary components of a taxpayer’s assessment, as noted previously, the assessed value is the figure that is multiplied against the actual tax rate to determine the amount of tax a property owner is required to pay.The assessed value is the ‘value that is finally determined’ by the assessor for the assessment period and is the value that limits the assessor’s advocacy and evidence.Section 138.060.By restricting the assessor from advocating for a higher assessed valuation than that finally determined by the assessor for the relevant assessment period, the legislature prevents an assessor from putting a taxpayer at risk of being penalized with a higher assessment for challenging an assessor’s prior determination of the value of the taxpayer’s property.”
Therefore, while the appraisal of Ms. Mesey provides substantial and persuasive evidence that as of January 1, 2009, the true value in money or fair market value of the Complainant’s property was $350,000, the assessed value cannot be raised above $57,970.
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 2009 and 2010 is set at $57,970.
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, MO65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
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 April 23, 2010.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 23rdday of April, 2010, to:Duane Jefts, 28 Lourdes Court, Lake St. Louis, MO 63367, Complainant; Charissa Mayes, Assistant County Counselor, 100 North Third Street, Room 216, St. Charles, MO 63301, Attorney for Respondent; Scott Shipman, Assessor, 201 North Second, Room 247, St. Charles, MO 63301-2870; Ruth Miller, Registrar, 201 North Second Street, Room 529, St. Charles, MO 63301; Michelle McBride, Collector, 201 North Second Street, Room 134, St. Charles, MO 63301.
 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).
 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).
 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; Exhibit 1, p. 4.
 St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).
 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).Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
 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).