State Tax Commission of Missouri
|JAMES P. SWEHLA,||)|
|v.||)||Appeal Number 15-15986|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
The decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization (BOE) lowering the assessment made by the Assessor, Jake Zimmerman, (Respondent) is AFFIRMED. The evidentiary hearing in this case was scheduled for 2:30 p.m., June 8, 2016, at the St. Louis County Government Administration Building in Clayton, Missouri. Complainant James P. Swehla (Complainant) failed to appear at the evidentiary hearing. Respondent appeared by Counsel Steven Robson. Appeal dismissed by Senior Hearing Officer Amy S. Westermann.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2015.
Initially, Respondent appraised the subject property at $592,800 true market value (TMV), $112,640 assessed value, as residential property. The BOE lowered Respondent’s valuation of the subject property to $540,700 TMV, $102,740 assessed value. Complainant appealed, on the ground of overvaluation. Complainant proposed a value of $504,400 TMV, $95,840 assessed value, in the Complaint for Review of Assessment.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
- The subject property is located at 10234 Eddingham Terrace, St. Louis County, Missouri. The property is identified by Parcel/Locator number 29M640489.
- By Order and pursuant to the agreement of Complainant, this case was set for an Evidentiary Hearing at 2:30 p.m., on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at the St. Louis County Government Administration Building, 41 S. Central Avenue, Clayton, Missouri. The Order informed Complainant that if he could not attend the Evidentiary Hearing and needed a continuance a request must be made in writing and filed with the Commission no later than five days before the hearing date. Complainant did not file any request for a continuance. Complainant did not appear at the Evidentiary Hearing.
- The evidentiary hearing in Appeal No. 15-15986 was not held as scheduled because Complainant did not appear and did not request a continuance. Respondent appeared by Counsel Steven Robson, who announced ready for trial. At approximately 2:50 p.m., after providing Complainant a grace period for arrival, the Senior Hearing Officer opened the record, recited the essential information in the appeal, entered her ruling that the appeal would be dismissed for Complainant’s failure to appear, and closed the record.
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, including the application of any abatement. The Senior 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. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith, and correctness of assessment by the county Board of 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). In order to prevail, complainants must rebut the presumption of correct assessment by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence as to the proper taxation of the subject property on the tax day at issue. Hermel, 564 S.W.2d at 895; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959). There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. In an appeal before the Commission, the taxpayer still bears the burden of proof because the taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. Therefore, the Complainant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” See, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375, 379 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 648 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991).
Dismissal of Appeal
A hearing officer, on his or her own motion, may dismiss an appeal for failure of prosecution. 12 CSR 30-3.050 (3) (D). In this case, the record reveals that Complainant had been informed by previous Orders of the Commission that failure to comply with said Orders may result in a dismissal of the appeal. Similarly, Complainant had also been informed that a request for a continuance of the Evidentiary Hearing must be made in writing and filed with the Commission no later than five days before the date of the Evidentiary Hearing. Complainant failed to comply with the Order setting the case for Evidentiary Hearing in that he did not file any request for continuance with the Commission and did not appear at the Evidentiary Hearing. Consequently, the appeal is dismissed for Complainant’s failure to appear and prosecute.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the BOE for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED. The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2015 and 2016 is set at $102,740.
Complainant may file with the Commission an application for review of this Decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth 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, MO 65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service. Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432 RSMo 2000.
The Collector of St. Louis 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 Section 139.031.8, RSMo 2000, as amended.
Any Finding of Fact that is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed. Any Decision that is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.
SO ORDERED this 19 day of July, 2016.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Amy S. Westermann
Senior Hearing Officer
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed or sent by U.S. Mail on this 19 day of July, 2016 to:
James P. Swehla, Complainant, 10234 Eddingham Terrace, St. Louis, MO 63128
Steven Robson, Attorney for Respondent, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jake Zimmerman, Assessor/Respondent, email@example.com
St. Louis County Collector’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Information for State Tax Commission:
Missouri State Tax Commission
P.O. Box 146
301 W. High Street, Room 840
Jefferson City, MO 65102