State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 11-32010
CATHY RINEHART, ASSESSOR,)
CLAY COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the Clay County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Hearing Officer finds Complainant did not rebut the presumption of correct classification by the Board. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2011 is set at $65,700, residential assessed value of $12,480.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Counsel, Patricia Hughes, Assistant County Counselor.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the classification and true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2011.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of misclassification (and thus valuation), the decision of the Clay County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $65,700 (assessed value of $12,480, as residential property).Complainant argues that the property is grade 8 ag land/forest cropland and proposed a value of $1,700 (assessed value of $200).A hearing was conducted on April 25, 2012, at the Clay County Administration Building, Liberty, Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
The subject property is an approximate ten acre parcel improved with a new home built in 2010.Because Clay County is an occupancy county and because the home is not yet occupied, only the land portion of the parcel is subject to taxation.The new home sits on approximately one acre at the front of the parcel.The remaining portion of the parcel is wooded.Complainant asserts she is entitled to a forest cropland designation, an agricultural sub-classification under Article X, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution.The property is not being used for agricultural purposes.Complainant has not applied to the Missouri Department of Conservation for a forest cropland designation.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Tracy Baldwin, an appraiser for Clay County.Mr. Baldwin testified that he had inspected the subject property and there was no agricultural use.Mr. Baldwin testified that the majority of the value of the parcel was in the residential home site frontage, not the wooded area.He presented sales indicating that one to five acre residential parcels were selling for between $20,000 and $80,000.A number of the one-plus acre sites were selling in the $60,000 to $65,000 range.Essentially, no value was assigned to the forested part of this residential parcel.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Clay County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property is located at 5400 N.E. 92nd Street, Kansas City, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 14-102-00-01-008.01.The property consists of a 10.65 acre lot improved by a 1,585 square foot one-story ranch, single-family structure of average quality construction.The house was built in 2010 and appears to be in average condition.The residence has a total of three bedrooms and two baths.There is a full unfinished basement and an attached two-car garage.
3.Clay County is an occupancy county meaning that the improvements on the parcel are not taxable until the property has met the definition of occupancy under Section 137.082, RSMo.As of the tax day, the property had not been occupied.
4.Article X, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution provides:
For the purpose of encouraging forestry when lands are devoted exclusively to such purposes, and the reconstruction, redevelopment, and rehabilitation of obsolete, decadent, or blighted areas, the general assembly by general law may provide for such partial relief from taxation of the lands devoted to any such purpose, and of the improvements thereon, by such method or methods, for such period or periods of time, not exceeding twenty-five years in any instance, and upon such terms, conditions, and restrictions as it may prescribe; provided, however, that in the case of forest lands, the limitation of twenty-five years herein described shall not apply.
5.Pursuant to the above Constitutional provision, the general assembly has passed Section 254.040, RSMo which provides, in part:
1.Any person desiring to have lands designated as forest croplands shall submit an application to the state forester on forms provided by the commission.The state forester shall make or cause to be made an examination of the lands covered by such application and shall forward a copy of such application, together with his or her recommendations, to the commission.If the commission approves and classifies such lands as forest croplands, they shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to this chapter. . .
3.No application to designate lands as forest croplands shall be accepted for a tract of land containing less than twenty acres; and no such lands shall be classified for tax relief if the value thereof shall exceed one hundred twenty-five dollars per acre or a greater value as set by regulation of the commission. . . .
6.Complainant has made no application to the Department of Conservation for a designation as forest cropland and, even if she had, would not qualify inasmuch as her property does not meet the requirement of being at least twenty acres.Consequently, her argument that she is entitled to an agricultural classification under Section 137.016.1(1), RSMo, Section 137.021, RSMo and 12 CSR 30-4.010 is without merit.
7.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, 2011, to be $1,700, as proposed.
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.
Official and Judicial Notice
Courts will take judicial notice of their own records in the same cases.In addition, courts may take judicial notice of records in earlier cases when justice requires or when it is necessary for a full understanding of the instant appeal. Courts may take judicial notice of their own records in prior proceedings involving the same parties and basically the same facts.
Presumptions In Appeals
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.
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.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.
Duty to Investigate
In order to investigate appeals filed with the Commission, the Hearing Officer has the duty to 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.The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon its inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties.
Weight to be Given Evidence
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.
Trier of Fact
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.
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.
Opinion Testimony by Experts
If specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert on that subject, by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto.
The facts or data upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing and must be of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject and must be otherwise reliable, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence.
Complainant Failed to Meet Her Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainant must present evidence tending to demonstrate that the property was entitled to an agricultural/forest cropland designation on January 1, 2011.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.
Complainant’s spouse researched the law to support her argument that she should receive a forest cropland designation for the subject property.However, he was not an attorney and did not locate the relevant law or he would have realized that the subject property did not, as a matter of law, qualify for a forest cropland designation.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for Clay County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2011 is $12,480.
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing date shown in the Certificate of Service.The application shall contain specific 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 Clay County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending a filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of 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 May 21, 2012.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 21st day of May, 2012, to:Grace Jordon, P.O. Box 11221, Gladstone, MO64119, Complainant; Patricia Hughes, Assistant County Counselor, 17 W. Kansas, Suite 3, Attorney for Respondent; Cathy Rinehart, Assessor, Sheri Chapman, Clerk, Lydia McEvoy, Collector, Administration Building, 1 Courthouse Square, Liberty, MO 64068.
 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).
 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.
 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).
 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).
 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).