GEORGE HOLMES v. GAIL MCCANN BEATTY, ASSESSOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI

June 3rd, 2022

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

GEORGE HOLMES, )
Complainant(s), ) Appeal Nos. 21-30186
v. ) Parcel/locator No(s):  28-430-29-06-00-0-00-000
GAIL MCCANN BEATTY, ASSESSOR, )
JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI, )
Respondent. )

DECISION AND ORDER

 George Holmes (Complainant) filed his Complaint for Review of Assessment with the State Tax Commission (STC) alleging overvaluation in the 2021 valuation assessment of the subject property for ad valorem purposes. Gail McCann Beatty, Assessor, Jackson County, Missouri, (Respondent) filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the STC does not have jurisdiction to review the assessment because Complainant did not appeal the assessment to the Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) by the statutory deadline. Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss is granted. Complainant’s appeal is dismissed.

The evidentiary hearing was scheduled for May 11, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. Respondent timely appeared at the evidentiary hearing, through counsel, Jennifer Ware. Complainant did not appear. Complainant did not seek a continuance or otherwise communicate any intent to proceed with the appeal.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The parties attended a pre-hearing conference in this appeal on February 23, 2022.  During the pre-hearing conference, discussion was had regarding a BOE decision for the subject property, which is not in the case files The hearing officer reviewed the documentation in the case file following the pre-hearing conference to determine if the STC had authority to hear the appeal.

On May 6, 2022, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging the STC lacks jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Specifically, Respondent asserted that “appeal must be lodged with the county clerk before the second Monday in July to be considered timely” pursuant to Section 137.385[1] and “Complainant did not lodge a timely appeal with the Board of Equalization for the 2021 tax year”. On May 11, 2022, at the hearing, Respondent argued that Complainant’s appeal was not filed with BOE; thus, the BOE did not hear the appeal and did not issue any decision regarding the appeal.  Complainant did not appear at the evidentiary hearing for the appeal and did not submit any evidence regarding the existence of a BOE decision.

FINDINGS OF FACT

  1. Subject Property. The subject property is located at 2503 Benton Blvd., Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. It is identified by parcel locator number 28-430-29-06-00-0-00-000.
  2. Valuation. Respondent determined the TVM for the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $165,000.
  3. Jurisdiction. The STC lacks authority or jurisdiction over this appeal because Complainant did not timely file the appeal with the BOE.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION

 Any person aggrieved by the assessment of his property may appeal to the county board of equalization. Section 137.385.  An appeal shall be in writing and the forms to be used for this purpose shall be furnished by the county clerk.  Id.  Such appeals shall be lodged with the county clerk as secretary of the board of equalization before the second Monday in July; provided, that the board may in its discretion extend the time for filing such appeals.  Id.

Every owner of real property or tangible personal property shall have the right to appeal from the local boards of equalization to the STC under rules prescribed by the STC, within the time prescribed in this chapter or 30 days following the final action of the local board of equalization, whichever date later occurs, concerning all questions and disputes involving the assessment against such property, the method or formula used in determining the valuation of such property, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment to such property.  Section 138.430.

As a general rule, courts will refrain from acting until the litigants have exhausted all available administrative remedies provided by statute. In establishing a system for levying of taxes and the appeal of property tax assessments, including those set out in Sections 138.060, 138.430 and 139.031, the General Assembly has properly charged administrative agencies with responsibilities associated with the determination of property valuation methods as well as the actual assessment of property.  Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation v. Estes, 323 S.W.3d 100, 104 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010).

The doctrine of exhaustion of remedies is a jurisdictional requirement.  Pessin v. State Tax Com’n, 875 S.W.2d 143 (Mo. App. E.D. 1994).  Where an administrative remedy is available, a court will generally require a litigant to exhaust the administrative remedy before assuming jurisdiction.  Premium Standard Farms, Inc. v. Lincoln Township, 946 S.W.2d 234, 237 (Mo. banc 1997); Willamette Indus., Inc. v. Clean Water Comm’n, 34 S.W.3d 197, 201 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000).

Under the statutory framework of Chapter 137, the General Assembly created the local boards of equalization and gave them the duty to hear and determine taxpayers’ appeals from an assessor’s valuation of property.  There can be no dispute that the General Assembly never intended to allow taxpayers to appeal to the STC without first appealing to the local boards of equalization.[2]

As an administrative agency, the STC’s authority is limited to that granted expressly or necessarily implied by statute.  See United Pharmacal Co. of Mo., Inc. v. Mo. Bd. of Pharmacy, 208 S.W.3d 907, 913 (Mo. banc 2006).  The authority to dismiss an untimely appeal is necessarily implied from the statutory grant of authority to hear and decide appeals filed within definite deadlines.  See Oberreiter v. Fullbright Trucking, 24 S.W.3d 727, 729 (Mo. App. E.D. 2000) (holding an agency has inherent authority to dismiss an untimely claim).

The STC’s authority to review an appeal from the BOE is “derivative or appellate in nature and hence the power or jurisdiction of the Commission [is] no more extensive than that possessed by the [BOE].”  Foster Bros. Mfg. Co. v. State Tax Comm’n, 319 S.W.2d 590, 595 (Mo. 1958); see also Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. State Tax Comm’n, 516 S.W.3d 830, 837 (Mo. banc 2017) (holding the Commission’s authority to consider an appeal “is derivative” of the BOE).  Therefore, a lack of BOE appeal leaves the STC with nothing to review.

The record reveals that the appeal was not filed timely with the BOE.  The lack of a timely filing of the appeal to the BOE denies the STC of any jurisdiction to hear an appeal and leaves the STC with nothing to review in this matter.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

 The value for the subject property for the tax year 2021[3] remains $165,000.

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.

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Jackson 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 June 3, 2022.

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

Erica M. Gage

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 June 3, 2022, to:

Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.

Amy S. Westermann

Chief Counsel

[1] All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.

[2] Under its rulemaking authority, the STC has promulgated 12 CSR 30-3.010(1)(B)1, which provides that taxpayers may file appeals directly with the STC in two limited circumstances, neither of which apply here:

(a) where the assessor fails to notify the current owner of the property of an initial assessment or an increase in assessment from the previous year, prior to thirty (30) days before the deadline for filing an appeal to the board of equalization, including instances in which real property was transferred and the prior owner was notified, or

(b) where a new owner purchased real property less than thirty (30) days before the deadline for filing an appeal to the board of equalization or later in the tax year, regardless if the assessment is an initial assessment, an increase or decrease in assessment, or an assessment established in the prior year.

[3] The assessed value shall also apply to the following even-numbered year (2022) except for new construction and property improvements. See Section 137.115.