STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|GARY E. MITCHELL||)|
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-10921|
|)||Parcel No. 19U120081|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Gary Mitchell (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $840,600, with an assessed value of $159,710. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $671,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was conducted on October 6, 2021, at the Wainwright State Office Building in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Complainant appeared pro se and attended in person. Respondent was represented by counsel Tim Bowe, who attended via WebEx video.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 1206 Lewis Spring Dr. in St. Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 19U120081.
The subject property consists of a three acre lot and a 1.5 story 5,110 square foot single family home that has four bedrooms, three full baths, and two half baths. (Resp. Ex. 2 at 2.)
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $840,600. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $840,600.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $671,000. Complainant testified in support of his opinion of value and submitted the following exhibits:
|Complainant 1||Copy of Previous Physical Inspection Notice from Respondent indicating inspection performed on April 24, 2019.||Admitted|
|Complainant 2||Change of Assessment Notice from Respondent dated May 8, 2019.||Admitted|
|Complainant 3||Letter to the BOE from Complainant dated September 6, 2019, and six pages of proposed comparable properties.||Admitted|
|Complainant 4||Letter to the STC from Complainant dated October 28, 2019, Complaint for Review of Assessment dated October 27, 2019, copy of Previous Physical Inspection Notice from Respondent indicating inspection performed on April 24, 2019, Change of Assessment Notice from Respondent dated May 8, 2019, BOE Property Assessment Appeal Form dated July 3, 2019, BOE Notice of Hearing, dated August 13, 2019, letter to the BOE from Complainant dated September 6, 2019, six pages of proposed comparables, and BOE Findings and Notice of Decision dated October 4, 2019.||Admitted|
|Complainant 5||Document titled “Tax Commission Presentation” with Complainant’s contentions as to opinion of value and 13 pages of real estate information.||Admitted|
|Complainant 6||Real estate information about proposed comparable properties located at 1466 Kehrs Mill Rd., 16488 Walnut Rail Rd., and 16405 Quiet Creek Ct.||Admitted|
|Complainant 7||Letter to STC from Complainant requesting a continuance of the prehearing conference dated January 2, 2020.||Admitted|
|Complainant 8||Letter to St. Louis County Collector of Revenue indicating that payment is made under protest and sharing other information dated December 28, 2020.||Admitted|
Respondent objected to Complainant’s Exhibit 6, and Complainant’s Exhibits 1 through 8 were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent presented the testimony of Barry A. Hough, an appraisal supervisor with Respondent and a Missouri state certified real estate appraiser. Respondent also submitted Exhibit 1, the October 4, 2019, BOE Findings and Notice of Decision, and Exhibit 2, Mr. Hough’s September 17, 2021, Restricted Use Residential Appraisal Report for the subject property indicating an $840,000 opinion of value as of January 1, 2019. Complainant objected to Respondent’s Exhibit 2, and Respondent’s Exhibits 1 and 2 were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate. In Respondent’s Exhibit 2, Mr. Hough utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of seven comparable properties. Respondent’s Exhibit 2 indicates that differences were adjusted for when determining an opinion of value.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $840,600, with an assessed value of $159,710.
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). “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.” 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). Determining the TVM is a factual issue for the STC. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).
“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; see also St. Louis Cty. v. Sec. Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977). The comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348. “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.” Id. at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). “Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.” Id. at 348.
- Evidence. 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). The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony. Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012). “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). 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.
- 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 or misclassified. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous” and 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, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (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 Prove Overvaluation. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous and that his opinion of value, $671,000, was the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019. In Complainant’s Exhibits 3, 4, 5, and 6 and Complainant’s related testimony, Complainant discusses various proposed comparable properties. However, Complainant has not persuasively shown that the BOE’s valuation is incorrect, and that his comparable sales should be utilized to determine the TVM. Complainant is not a certified appraiser, (Tr. Pt. 2 2:08-50), and did not provide expert testimony in support of his opinion of value. As to the proposed comparable that is about 400 feet from Complainant’s home that sold for $635,000, Mr. Hough persuasively testified that the financing history indicates that in September of 2018 and in 2019, the loan for such property was about $900,000, indicating a higher value, and that such property was rejected as a usable comparable because of “too many anomalies” based on the “unusual financing arrangements and listing history” of that property. (Tr. Pt. 2 14:45-19:09.)
Respondent, although not required to, presented persuasive evidence in support of the BOE’s value of $840,600. Mr. Hough testified that he researched comparable sales, found eight comparable sales in the immediate area, made adjustments to the comparable properties, and reached an $840,600 value, which is the same value determined by BOE.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $840,600, with an assessed value of $159,710.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission 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, 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. Louis 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.
SO ORDERED December 3, 2021.
Laura A. Storck-Elam
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 December 3, 2021, 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, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
 Complainant’s Exhibit 4 includes documents identified as Complainant’s Exhibits 1 through 3.
 Respondent’s Exhibit 2 utilizes eight comparable sales based on seven properties. One of the properties, 1218 Lewis Spring Dr., was sold on December 28, 2017, and September 16, 2019.
 Four of the comparable sales (for three different properties) are located on the same street as the subject property. (Resp’t Ex. 2 at 2, 5.)
 Missouri operates on a two-year reassessment cycle for valuing real property. See Section 137.115.1. Absent new construction or improvements to a parcel of real property, the assessed value as of January 1 of the odd year remains the assessed value as of January 1 of the following even year. Id.