STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|IRONSTONE INVESTMENTS LLC,||)|
|)||Appeal No. 21-18250|
|v.||)||Parcel No. 22P340604|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Ironstone Investments LLC, (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization (BOE) decision determining the appraised value of the subject property was $2,500,000 as of January 1, 2021. Complainant alleges overvaluation and proposes a value of $1,440,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. The BOE decision is affirmed.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property. The subject commercial property consists of an approximately 2.38-acre lot improved with 23,337-square-foot commercial building. St. Louis County documents indicate Complainant likely purchased the subject property in June 2021 for $2,650,000. (Resp. Ex. 2 at 2, 18, 25)
- Assessment and Valuation. The BOE determined the subject property’s TVM as of January 1, 2021, was $2,500,000.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant did not file exhibits or written direct testimony prior to the hearing as required by the scheduling order. Complainant called no witnesses. Complainant introduced Exhibit A, a document filed prior to the hearing by Respondent as Exhibit 2. Respondent did not object. The document consists of a sales validation packet including a commercial summary, St. Louis County certificate of value, deed of trust, listing details, and a CoStar article asserting “[t]he deal came out to $2.65 million, or $110 per square foot.” (Ex. 2 at 25) The documents also indicate the purchaser secured the purchase with a $2,120,000 deed of trust and that the subject property was 76% vacant at the time of sale.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent introduced Exhibits 1 through 3 and the testimony of Albert Lincoln. Exhibit 1 consist of Lincoln’s appraisal qualifications. Exhibit 2 is the sales validation packet filed by Respondent and also introduced by Complainant introduced as Exhibit A. Lincoln testified Respondent determined Exhibit 2 reflected a valid market sale. Lincoln further testified the $2,120,000 Complainant provided to secure the deed of trust is consistent with the common practice of lending 80% of the purchase price, implying a purchase price of $2,650,000 ($2,120,000 / 0.80 = $2,650,000).
On cross-examination, Lincoln testified he did not know the identity of the individual who signed the St. Louis County certificate of value as Complainant’s representative.
- Value. The subject property’s TVM as of January 1, 2021, was $2,500,000.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. Commercial real property is assessed at 32% of its TVM. Section 137.115.5(1)(c). In this case, the valuation date is January 1, 2021. Section 137.115.1.
The TVM is “the fair market value of the property on the valuation date[.]” 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). “True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange not value in use.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020) (internal quotation omitted). “Determining the true value in money is an issue of fact for the STC.” Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008).
“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. “Each valuation approach is applied with reference to a specific use of the property—its highest and best use.” Id. at 346.
- 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). “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977).
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence the property is overvalued. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The burden of proof “has two components—the burden of production and the burden of persuasion.” White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 304 (Mo. banc 2010); see also Taney Cnty. Title & Escrow, LLC v. Jensen, 600 S.W.3d 16, 26 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020) (noting the burden of proof consists of the burdens of production and persuasion.)
The BOE value is presumptively correct. Rinehart v. Laclede Gas Co., 607 S.W.3d 220, 227 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020). The taxpayer must produce substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the BOE value and proving the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. “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 v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 77 (Mo. banc 1986) (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 a “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).
- Complainant Did Not Produce Substantial and Persuasive Evidence of Overvaluation.
Complainant called no witnesses. Complainant did not introduce evidence estimating the subject’s TVM as of January 1, 2021, with the sales comparison, income, or cost approach.
Complainant’s Exhibit A – the sales validation packet initially filed as Respondent’s Exhibit 2 – does not rebut the BOE’s presumptively correct value or show the value that should have been placed on the property. While Complainant’s cross-examination of Respondent’s witness, Albert Lincoln, indicates uncertainty over the identity of the individual who signed the certificate of value as Complainant’s representative, Exhibit 2 includes three separate documents reporting a June 2021 sale price of $2,650,000, slightly more than the $2,500,000 BOE value. Even if there is uncertainty regarding a signatory to the certificate of value, Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the BOE’s presumptively correct value and showing the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. The BOE decision is affirmed.
Application for Review
A party may file 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 of Missouri, 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, and 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 the disputed taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of section 139.031.
SO ORDERED November 4, 2022.
Eric S. Peterson
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 November 4, 2022, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 All citations to Exhibit 2 are to the PDF pagination.