State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 07-32937
SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. CHARLES COUNTY,MISSOURI,)
AFFIRMING HEARING OFFICER DECISION
UPON APPLICATION FOR REVIEW
On January 15, 2008, Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan entered her Decision and Order (Decision) affirming the assessments by the St. Charles County Board of Equalization and setting the true value in money for the property under appeal at $344,320, residential, assessed value of $65,420.
Complainant timely filed his Application for Review of the Decision. On March 14, 2008, Respondent filed a response.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Standard Upon Review
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).
The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as he may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances.The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part.St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992);Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).
The Commission will not lightly interfere with the Hearing Officer’s Decision and substitute its judgment on the credibility of witnesses and weight to be given the evidence for that of the Hearing Officer as the trier of fact.Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Lowe v. Lombardi, 957 S.W.2d 808 (Mo. App. W.D. 1997); Forms World, Inc. v. Labor and Industrial Relations Com’n, 935 S.W.2d 680 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996); Evangelical Retirement Homes v. STC, 669 S.W.2d 548 (Mo. 1984); Pulitzer Pub. Co. v. Labor and Indus. Relations Commission, 596 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. 1980); St. Louis County v. STC, 562 S.W.2d 334 (Mo. 1978); St. Louis County v. STC, 406 S.W.2d 644 (Mo. 1966).
A review of the record in the present appeal provides support for the determinations made by the Hearing Officer.There is competent and substantial evidence to establish a sufficient foundation for the Decision of the Hearing Officer.A reasonable mind could have conscientiously reached the same result based on a review of the entire record. The Commission finds no basis to support a determination that the Hearing Officer acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner or abused his discretion as the trier of fact and concluder of law in this appeal.Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888 (Mo. 1978); Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Holt v. Clarke, 965 S.W.2d 241 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998); Smith v. Morton, 890 S.W.2d403 (Mo. App. E.D. 1995).Phelps v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer Dist., 598 S.W.2d 163 (Mo. App. E.D. 1980).
Complainant’s, Gary Tarpinian, letter setting forth the basis for the Application for Review presented one ground for the appeal of the Hearing Officer’s Decision.Complainant failed to set forth any legal claim or basis as a ground to find the Hearing Officer had abused her discretion or acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner.Complainant simply disagreed with the conclusions and determinations reached by the Hearing Officer and had an opinion as to the fair market value of the property different from that determined by the Hearing Officer.In other words, Complainant failed to state any specific legal grounds upon which it was claimed the decision was erroneous.In the absence of specific facts of error or specific errors in applying the law, the Application for Review must be summarily denied.
Mr. Tarpinian raised the following point in his Application for Review:“the Review Appraiser did not take into account significant value differences in the basement finishes and other appointments between my property and those of the Sales Comparable properties Mr. Hess [Assessor’s Office Review Appraiser] chose to present as his Valuation Evidence in his report at the Hearing.”
Mr. Tarpinian failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization and therefore the persuasiveness of the Assessor’s evidence is irrelevant.There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof 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). The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer 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.Snider, Hermel & Cupples Hesse, supra.
In Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003), the court of appeals described the taxpayer’s burden as follows:
Taxpayers were the moving parties seeking affirmative relief, and as such, they bore the burden of proving the vital elements of their case, i.e., the assessments were “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo.1959); Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003); 84 C.J.S. Taxation §§710,726. This is true regardless of the existence or non-existence of the challenged presumption. As the Supreme Court of Missouri explained, “even were we to hold that it [the presumption] has been overcome, the burden of proof on the facts and inferences would still remain on petitioner, for it is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.”Cupples, 329 S.W.2d at 702. See also 84 C.J.S. Taxation §710, which states: “Even where there is no presumption in favor of the assessor’s ruling, if no evidence is offered in support of the complaint, the reviewing board is justified in fixing the valuation complained of in the amount assessed by the assessor.”
To prevail, Taxpayers had to “present an opinion of market value and then … present substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on tax day.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002).
Complainant’s evidence failed to rise to the level of substantial and persuasive necessary to rebut the presumptions of corrects assessment in the assessing officials.The Complainant failed to present adequate and sound market data in an appropriate sales comparison approach.
The Complainant failed to present 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.Since the Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence, the presumption of correct assessment by the Board was not rebutted.
The Hearing Officer did not err in her determinations as challenged by Complainant. A review of the points now raised by Mr. Tarpinian and the evidence presented in the record in this appeal presents no basis for overturning the Decision.The Commission finds nothing in the evidentiary record or in the points raised in the Application for Review which would support overturning or modifying the decision of the Hearing Officer.
The Commission upon review of the record and Decision in this appeal, finds no grounds upon which the Decision of the Hearing Officer should be reversed or modified.Accordingly, the Decision is affirmed.
Judicial review of this Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140, RSMo within thirty days of the date of the mailing of this Order.
If judicial review of this decision is made, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the courts.If no judicial review is made within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Charles County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
SO ORDERED April 8, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
Bruce E. Davis, Chairman
Jennifer Tidwell, Commissioner
Charles Nordwald, Commissioner
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor, AFFIRMED.Hearing Officer finds true value in money for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 to be $344,320, assessed value of $65,420.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Counsel, Charissa Mayes, Assistant County Counselor.
Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2007.
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 Assessor determined an appraised value of $344,320, assessed value of $65,420, as residential property.Complainant proposed a value of $305,000, assessed value of $57,950.A hearing was conducted on January 8, 2008, at theSt. CharlesCountyAdministrationBuilding,St. Charles,Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
The following exhibits were offered into evidence on behalf of the Complainant.
Exhibit A – Packet of materials including home sale listings, property record cards and articles from publications.
Exhibit A was objected to by Respondent.Said objection was sustained.
Testimony of Gary Tarpinian.
The following exhibits were offered into evidence on behalf of the Respondent.
Exhibit 1 – Appraisal of Subject Property prepared by Dennis Hess
All Exhibits were received into evidence.
Testimony of Dennis Hess
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.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.
2.The subject property is located at 222 Muirfield Woods Court, St. Charles, Missouri.The property is identified by locator number A88300297.The property consists of a 13,504 square foot lot improved by a brick and frame one-story ranch style single-family structure of good quality construction.The house was built in 1992 and appears to be in average condition.The residence has a total of eight rooms, which includes three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and contains 2,833 square feet of living area.There is full unfinished basement and an attached two car garage.
3.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2008.
4.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, 2007, to be $305,000.
5.The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser in performing his appraisal were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value of the subject property. The properties were located within approximately five miles of the subject.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, room, bedroom and bathroom count, living area, location, site size and other amenities of comparability.The adjustments made by the appraiser were appropriate to account for the differences between each comparable and the subject.
6.Respondent’s appraisal was accepted only to sustain the assessment made by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for the purpose of raising the assessment above that value.
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.Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, RSMo.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.Section 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumptions on Assessments
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof 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).
TheSupreme Court of Missouri has held, “A tax assessor’s valuation is presumed correct.”Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341 (Mo. 2005).Citing to Hermel, supra; and Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the assessor’s or Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.Snider, Hermel & Cupples Hesse, supra.
Complainants’ evidence failed to rise to the level of substantial and persuasive necessary to rebut the presumptions of corrects assessment in the assessing officials.
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).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 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 is 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 each 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.
6.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’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, 2007.Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897.Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.See, Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).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).See also, 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).
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value. 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.Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).
Complainant presented Exhibit A.Exhibit A consisted of a summary by the Complainant of home sale listings and copies of the listings.Exhibit A also contained property record card of two properties from the St. Charles County Assessor’s Office.The property record cards listed sales of those properties in 2003 and 1997.The last item in Exhibit A was an article regarding home prices and construction in St. Louis in 2007.The article and the property records provide no assistance in determining the true value of the property on January 1, 2007.The home sale listings provides the asking price for residences in the County, but do not provide the true market value as evidence by a sale between a knowledgeable buyer and seller.
Summary and Conclusion
Complainant’s evidence failed to establish by Exhibit A that the subject property in an open market transaction on January 1, 2007, would have sold for only $305,000.Having failed to meet his burden of proof, the value determined by the Assessor which was sustained by the Board is affirmed.
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.Section 138.060, RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.075.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization forSt. CharlesCountyfor the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $65,420.
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision.The application shall contain specific grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.Section 138.432, RSMo 2000.
If an application for review of this decision is made to the Commission, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission.If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Charles County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.If any or all protested taxes have been disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031(8), RSMo, either party may apply to the circuit court having jurisdiction of the cause for disposition of the protested taxes held by the taxing authority.
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 January 15, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI