STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|IVEN CHEN,||)||Appeal No. 21-30018|
|Complainant,||)||Parcel/locator No(s): 47-210-18-09-00-0-00-000|
|GAIL MCCANN-BEATTY, ASSESSOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Ivan Chen (Complainant) appeals the Jackson County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $129,000. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $70,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed. The parties waived their opportunity for an evidentiary hearing and agreed to submit the appeals on the record. Complainant, pro se, and Respondent, represented by counsel, Jennifer Ware, each submitted their respective evidence for appeal on the record.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 6127 Rockhill Rd, Jackson County, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 47-210-18-09-00-0-00-000.
The subject property consists of a 1,425 square foot, one and a half story single family home. The subject property features three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, and a basement.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2021, was $129,000. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2021, was $129,000.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant testified the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $70,000. Complainant submitted written testimony of Ivan Chen, Exhibit A, Property Account Summary, Exhibit B, pictures, and Exhibit C, a recent news article, all of which are admitted into evidence. Complainant’s testimony states the property’s value increased between 2016 and 2021, from $56,650 in 2016 to $129,000 in 2021. (See written testimony and Exhibit A) Complainant’s evidence includes pictures of the condition of his individual home’s features. Complainant submitted 10 pictures of the condition of the subject property, including a porch, ceiling, driveway, and gutter. (Exhibit B) Complainant presented Exhibit C, a news article alleging incorrect assessments by Jackson County. There was no evidence presented that Complainant is a licensed appraiser or a person possessing appraisal training. Complainant submitted no appraisal of the subject property.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, Summary Report, and the Written Direct Testimony (WDT) of David Davis, which are admitted into evidence. Mr. Davis testified he has five to six years of experience as a Residential Real Estate Appraiser for Jackson County. In Exhibit 1, Mr. Davis utilized the sales comparison approach to estimate the January 1, 2021, market value of the subject property. Mr. Davis’ WDT concluded the market value was $129,000 and utilizes the Exhibit 1, Summary Report, to support this conclusion.
Exhibit 1 states the “taxpayer photos and observations made by assessor during 09/29/2021 site visit demonstrate that the home is in ‘Fair’ condition.” (Exhibit 1 at 5) Exhibit 1 also utilizes the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of six comparable properties. The comparable properties are located within one-tenth of a mile of the subject property. The comparable properties are similar to the subject property with respect to location, age, and size. The comparable properties differ from the subject property with respect to class and features. Exhibit 1 asserts the “subject is most-similar to 6100 Rockhill Road.” (Exhibit 1 at 5)
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2021, was $129,000.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation
Pursuant to Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 real property and tangible personal property is assessed at its value or such percentage of its value as may be fixed by law for each class and for each subclass. Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945. 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. For this reason, the comparable sales approach is typically used to value residential property. “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.
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. The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon his inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties. Id.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Rinehart v. Laclede Gas Co., 607 S.W.3d 220, 227 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020). To prove overvaluation, a taxpayer must rebut the BOE’s presumptively correct valuation and prove the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The taxpayer’s evidence must be both “substantial and persuasive.” 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”). A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the STC “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.” See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation.
Complainant’s evidence alleges the subject property’s value is $70,000. Complainant’s argument in support of this value is that Respondent’s methods of mass assessment fail to value individual properties properly and various repair issues affecting the overall condition of the subject property do not support an increase in TVM. Complainant’s evidence of the condition of the property was taken into account in the property comparison analysis done by the Respondent in Exhibit 1. The resulting value in Exhibit 1 is specific to the property, as the Respondent classified the property as being in “fair condition”.
Complainant’s submission of pictures and testimony of condition is not a method used to find a TVM for a property. The comparable sales approach is the method used to determine the TVM of the subject property. “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.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). Complainant offered no evidence of comparable properties to the subject property. While a property owner’s opinion of value is generally admissible, the opinion “is without probative value where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.” Shelby Cty. R-IV Sch. Dist. v. Herman, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Mo. 1965); see also Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 349 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) (noting a property owner’s opinion of value loses probative value when it rests on an improper foundation). Complainant presented no appraisal of the subject property in order to determine a value of the subject property. See Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 349 (holding a landowner’s opinion of value lacks probative value when there is “no other evidence as to what he based his opinion on or how he arrived at his opinion of [value]”). Complainant’s alleged valuation is based on improper elements and therefore is speculative. Overall, the condition issues submitted by Complainant are not persuasive evidence to demonstrate how the value of the subject property is $70,000.
The assertions within Complainant’s Exhibit C and testimony, which discuss Respondent’s supposed errors in methodology and alleged incorrect assessments, are not substantial and persuasive evidence that the BOE’s valuation of the subject property is erroneous. General assertions about the shortcomings of the methodology of Respondent and how such methodology causes increases to certain properties do not speak specifically as to the TVM of the subject property.
Although not required given the burden of proof, Respondent presented Exhibit 1 and testimony that the data in Exhibit 1 supported the BOE’s valuation of the subject property. Respondent’s evidence persuasively supports the TVM of $129,000.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $129,000.
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.
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 February 25, 2022.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Erica M. Gage
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 February 25, 2022, 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.
 Section 138.431.5 provides the “hearing officer, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity for fair hearing, shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the BOE, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.”