Forty West Partners v. Zimmerman (SLCO)

February 27th, 2014

State Tax Commission of Missouri
















Appeal Number 07-10729



















 St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s assessment SET ASIDE.Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization.

True value in money and assessment ratio for the subject property for tax year(s):

True Value 2007-2008

Assessment Ratio

Assessed Value





Complainant appeared by counsel, Thomas Campbell.Respondent appeared by Attorney Edward Corrigan.

Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.


Complainant appeals, on the grounds of overvaluation and discrimination, the decision of the County Board of Equalization.Having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, the Hearing Officer finds that the Board determined the true value of the property and the Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence as to discrimination.The following Decision and Order is entered.


1.Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the County Board of Equalization.

2.Schedule and Procedure.On January 10, 2013, the State Tax Commission issued an Order setting forth the schedule and procedures for this appeal.The Schedule and Procedure required that each party file and exchange exhibits and written direct testimony to establish their case in chief on or before June 3, 2013.Complainant and Respondent filed and exchanged the exhibits set out below under Evidence.Respondent was ordered to designate Assignment of Attorney by June 3, 2013.No entry of appearance was filed with the State Tax Commission.Respondent had until August 20, 2013 to file objections and rebuttal exhibits.Respondent did not submit objections to Complainant’s exhibits or submit rebuttal exhibits.On August 9, 2013, Respondent was ordered to file, on or before September 13, 2013, a Certification of Hearing indicating a good faith intention to require a hearing or allowing the case to be submitted on exhibits.Respondent failed to file with the Commission.

3.Subject Property.The subject property is identified by map parcel number: 18R120342 and is further identified as 14567 N Outer 40 Rd, St. Louis, Missouri.

4.Assessment.The Assessor appraised the property at $15,439,400, an assessed commercial value of $4,940,600.The Board of Equalization determined the value to be $15,000,000, assessed value of $4,800,000.

5.Complainant’s Evidence.Complainant filed with the Commission the following documents:Exhibit A – The Board of Equalization Decision.Respondent filed with the Commission the following documents: Exhibit 1 – Deed dated 06/12/2006, Exhibit 2 – COV dated 06/08/2006, Exhibit 3 – WDT of Mr. Gillick.

6.The State Tax Commission previously found that the median level of assessment for commercial property in St. Louis County in 2007 is 29.4%.The previous decision is incorporated by reference.



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.[1]

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.[2]The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property is assessed at set percentages of true value in money.[3]

Presumption In Appeals

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.[4]


Section 137.115 of the Missouri Revised Statutes 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 purchased by one who is desiring to purchase but who is not compelled to do so. [5]The value used for the true value in money of a subject property is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. [6]

There is a presumption of validity, good faith, and correctness by the County Board of Equalization.[7] The case law and the Commission’s decisions have repeatedly held the presumption of a correct assessment may only be rebutted when substantial and persuasive evidence is presented to establish that Board’s valuation is erroneous.[8] In the absence of such evidence, the presumptions are assumed to be correct.

The determination of true value is necessary for both overvaluation and discrimination claims.Complainant submitted as Exhibit A – the Board of Equalization’s decision- as to the true value in money of the Complainant’s property.The Supreme Court[9] holds that the Commission cannot compel a taxpayer to present evidence in a particular form.Therefore, complainants are entitled to present evidence of the true value in money of their respective properties in the form of the Board of Equalization decisions.

The Respondent presented a Certificate of Value dated June 8, 2006.The Certificate sets forth that the property was purchased for $15,000,000.

The hearing officer’s decision must be based upon its inquiry into relevant matters and evidence presented in the case or solely upon the evidence presented in the case.”

The exhibits establish true value in money of the subject property.The exhibits establish that the property was overvalued by the Assessor and the Board of Equalization established true value for the property.


In order to obtain a reduction in assessed value based upon discrimination, the Complainant must (1) prove the true value in money of their property on January 1, 2007; and (2) show an intentional plan of discrimination by the assessing officials resulting in an assessment of that property at a greater percentage of value than other property, generally, within the same class within the same taxing jurisdiction or show that the level of an assessment is so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment. [10]

As stated previously, the first prong of the test to prove discrimination has been addressed.The next step is to review the assessment of the subject property and properties within the same class.

There is no evidence that there was an intentional plan of discrimination by the assessing officials so we must determine if the Complainant has presented substantial and persuasive evidence to show that the level of their assessment is so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment.“By requiring that the level of an assessment be so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment in cases in which intentional discrimination is not shown, the courts and the Commission refrain from correcting assessments which reflect no more than de minimus errors of judgment on the part of assessors. Such a standard recognizes that ‘[w]hile practical uniformity is the constitutional goal, absolute uniformity is an unattainable ideal’.” [11]  

The median level of assessment for a particular class of real property and the actual assessment imposed on the property of the taxpayer alleging discrimination must be evaluated.[12] The median level of assessment is determined by independently determining the market value of a representative sample of commercial properties within the County; (b) determining the assessed value placed on the property by the Assessor’s office for the relevant year; (c) dividing the assessed value by the market value to determine the level of assessment for each property in the sample; and (d) determining the mean and median of the results. The Commission, in a previous hearing, held that the median level of assessment for commercial properties in St. Louis County in 2007 was 29.4%. [13]

The subject property’s assessed value as determined by the Assessor was $4,940,600 using an assessment ratio of 32% and their determination of value of $15,439,400.The subject property’s assessed value using the Board’s determination of value and a median assessment ratio of 29.4% is $4,410,000.The difference between the assessed values is $530,600.

The Complainant has established that the assessment was more than a de minimus error in judgment on the part of the assessor and thereby established their right to have his “assessment reduced to the percentage of that value at which others are taxed…”[14] in other words, the taxpayer’s assessed valuation should be set at the assessment “placed upon the general mass of other taxable property in the county.”


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $4,410,000.

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. [15]

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 December 13, 2013.


 Maureen Monaghan

Hearing Officer



[1] Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo. 

[2] Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 

[3] Section 137.115.5, RSMo 

[4] 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) 

[5] St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. Ct. App. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo 1993). 

[6] Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 SW.2d. 888, 897 (Mo. 1978). 

[7] Williamson v. Kessinger, Green County Assessor, Appeal No. 11-22003-11-33019 (June 28, 2012); Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008). 

[8] See Cohen, 251 S.W.3d 345; Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341 (Mo. 2007) (citing Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 SW.2d. 888, 895 (Mo. 1978)); Couples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 7029.4 (Mo. 1959). 

[9] State ex rel. Ashby Partners, LLC v State Tax Commission, 297 S.W.3d 80, 88 (Mo. banc 2009). 

[10] Savage v. State Tax Commission, 722 S.W.2d 72 (Mo. banc 1986); Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003.)

[11] Savage v. State Tax Commission, 722 S.W.2d 72 (Mo. banc 1986). 

[12] Savage 722 S.W.2d at 79 

[13] See In The Matter of the 2007 and 2008 Commercial Assessment Ratio of Properties in St. Louis County v. Zimmerman State Tax Commission Appeal 07-08 Ratio (“2007 Ratio Case”). 

[14] Sioux City Bridge Co. v. Dakota County, Neb, 43 S.Ct.190 (1923) 

[15] Section 138.432, RSMo.