State Tax Commission of Missouri
JAMES W. TROYER,)
v.)Appeal Number 07-79005
LISA POPE, ASSESSOR,)
PLATTE COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
AFFIRMING HEARING OFFICER DECISION
UPON APPLICATION FOR REVIEW
On February 26, 2008, Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson entered her Decision and Order (Decision) setting aside the assessment by the Platte County Board of Equalization and setting the true value in money for the property under appeal at $170,000, assessed value of $32,300.
Complainant timely filed his Application for Review of the Decision.Respondent timely filed her Response.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Standard Upon Review
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.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).
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 she 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.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).
The Commission will not lightly interfere with the Hearing Officer’s Decision and substitute its judgment on the credibility of witnesses and weight to be given the evidence for that of the Hearing Officer as the trier of fact.Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Lowe v. Lombardi, 957 S.W.2d 808 (Mo. App. W.D. 1997); Forms World, Inc. v. Labor and Industrial Relations Com’n, 935 S.W.2d 680 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996); Evangelical Retirement Homes v. STC, 669 S.W.2d 548 (Mo. 1984); Pulitzer Pub. Co. v. Labor and Indus. Relations Commission, 596 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. 1980); St. Louis County v. STC, 562 S.W.2d 334 (Mo. 1978); St. Louis County v. STC, 406 S.W.2d 644 (Mo. 1966).
A review of the record in the present appeal provides support for the determinations made by the Hearing Officer.There is competent and substantial evidence to establish a sufficient foundation for the Decision of the Hearing Officer.A reasonable mind could have conscientiously reached the same result based on a review of the entire record. The Commission finds no basis to support a determination that the Hearing Officer acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner or abused his discretion as the trier of fact and concluder of law in this appeal.Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888 (Mo. 1978); Black v. Lombardi, 970 S.W.2d 378 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998); Holt v. Clarke, 965 S.W.2d 241 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998); Smith v. Morton, 890 S.W.2d403 (Mo. App. E.D. 1995); Phelps v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer Dist., 598 S.W.2d 163 (Mo. App. E.D. 1980).
Complainant challenged the Decision on the ground “… that the Hearing Officer took the word of the Respondents (sic – Respondent’s) Appraiser of home values not offered in as evidence, yet, the Hearing Officer did not accept as evidence my statements as to the existing valuation of my property listed in the Platte County Appraisers (sic – Assessor’s) office.”Complainant’s claim is without merit.Respondent submitted into evidence at the evidentiary hearing the summary appraisal report of Annette Testerman (Exhibit A).
Exhibit A concluded a fair market value of $170,000 based upon a sales comparison approach to value relying on the sales of three comparable properties.Complainant is mistaken in his assertion that the home values of the comparable properties were not offered as evidence.The sales prices of the three comparables are shown in Exhibit A, as well as the adjusted values determined by the appraiser.See, Exhibit A; Decision – Findings of Fact, p. 2.The market data in the record provides sufficient evidence to establish the value concluded by the Hearing Officer of $170,000.Complainant presented no market data which would support his opinion of value of $145,000.
The Hearing Officer did not err in her determinations as challenged by Complainant.
The Commission upon review of the record and Decision in this appeal, finds no grounds upon which the Decision of the Hearing Officer should be reversed or modified.Accordingly, the Decision is affirmed.
Judicial review of this Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140, RSMo within thirty days of the date of the mailing of this Order.
If judicial review of this decision is made, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the courts.If no judicial review is made within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of Platte County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
SO ORDERED April 29, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Bruce E. Davis, Chairman
Jennifer Tidwell, Commissioner
Charles Nordwald, Commissioner
DECISION AND ORDER
The decision of the Board of Equalization setting value at $201,832 (assessed value $38,348) is SET ASIDE.The Commission sets value at $170,000 (assessed value $32,300), as proposed by Respondent at hearing.
The issue in this case is the true market value of residential real property.
The subject property is a residence which was originally valued by the assessor at $249,927 (assessed value $47,486).Upon appeal, the Board of Equalization reduced value to $201,832 (assessed value $38,348).Complainant appealed asserting a value of $145,500 (assessed value $27,645).An evidentiary hearing was held on January 29, 2008, in the Platte County Administrative Building before hearing officer Luann Johnson.The parties appeared pro se.At hearing, Respondent proposed a value of $170,000 (assessed value $32,300).
Complainant submitted no exhibits.
Respondent submitted Exhibit A – Appraisal Report.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction is proper.Complainant timely filed his appeal from the decision of the Platte County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property is a 16,864 square foot site improved with a one and one-half story four bedroom, two bath home containing 2,060 square feet on the main level and a 1,433 square foot basement containing 406 square feet of finished living area.The home has a two-car garage, a porch or deck and three wood burning fireplaces.The home is 27 years old of average quality construction in fair condition.The property is identified as parcel number 19-4.0-19-300-004-002-0000, more commonly known as 6700 North Fisk Avenue, Kansas City, Platte County, Missouri.
3.Respondent’s appraiser found sales of three similar homes which sold for $165,900; 177,500; and $180,000.Respondent’s appraiser adjusted for condition, room count, basement finish, fireplaces and appliances.After adjustments, these properties indicated a range of value for the subject property between $166,540 and $176,560.Gross adjustments ranged from 5.04% to 10.31%.Based upon these sales, Respondent’s appraiser determined a market value for the subject property of $170,000 on January 1, 2007.
Respondent’s appraiser testified that she had toured the property and noted the deferred maintenance.She also pointed to the fact that her first comparable, which sold for $165,900, was in close proximity to the subject property and was sold in “as is” condition at foreclosure.
Respondent’s evidence is substantial and persuasive because it is based upon market sales.
4.Complainant asserts that the correct value of his home is the previous value of $140,000 plus a 3% cost of living increase.Complainant testified that he purchased the home in 2003 for $111,500; that the home needed rehabbing; and that he had just recently begun that rehab.Complainant presented no market sales in support of his opinion of value.
Complainant’s evidence is not substantial and persuasive because it is not based upon market sales, or any other acceptable method of valuing property.
5.Complainant is in the process of putting new siding on his home.However, Complainant is handling this task himself and it was not completed as of January 1, 2008.No evidence was presented which suggested that any new construction or property improvements occurred between January 1, 2007, and the hearing date, which would increase the value for tax year 2008.Therefore the value determined for tax year 2007 shall also be the value determined for tax year 2008.
6.The true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2007, and
January 1, 2008, is $170,000, as recommended by Respondent at hearing.
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lang=EN-CA style=’mso-ansi-language:EN-CA’>CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
True Value in Money
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 purchased by one who is desiring to purchase but who is not compelled to do so.St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978).
Taxpayer has Burden of Proof
In Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003), the court of appeals stated:
There is no longer an automatic presumption regarding the correctness of an assessor’s valuation. Section 138.431.3. This statutory change from the previous situation in which the assessor’s valuation was presumed to be correct does not mean that there is now a presumption in favor of taxpayer. The taxpayer in a Commission tax appeal still bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was improperly classified or valued. Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
In Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003), the court of appeals described the taxpayer’s burden as follows:
Taxpayers were the moving parties seeking affirmative relief, and as such, they bore the burden of proving the vital elements of their case, i.e., the assessments were “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo.1959); Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003); 84 C.J.S. Taxation §§710,726. This is true regardless of the existence or non-existence of the challenged presumption. As the Supreme Court of Missouri explained, “even were we to hold that it [the presumption] has been overcome, the burden of proof on the facts and inferences would still remain on petitioner, for it is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.”Cupples, 329 S.W.2d at 702. See also 84 C.J.S. Taxation §710, which states: “Even where there is no presumption in favor of the assessor’s ruling, if no evidence is offered in support of the complaint, the reviewing board is justified in fixing the valuation complained of in the amount assessed by the assessor.”
To prevail, Taxpayers had to “present an opinion of market value and then … present substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on tax day.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002).
Substantial and Persuasive Evidence
Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, i.e., evidence favoring facts which are such that reasonable men may differ as to whether it established them, and from which the Commission can reasonably decide an appeal on the factual issues.Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
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.Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
Comparable Sales Approach
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.Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.This approach is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data is available to make a comparative analysis.Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d. 341, 347-348 (Mo. 2005). (citations omitted).
Complainant has failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence tending to demonstrate that his property would sell for no more than $145,000 on January 1, 2007.Likewise, Complainant failed to present any evidence tending to demonstrate that the subject property would have sold for less than $170,000 on the tax day.Values are based upon market conditions, not upon cost of living increases.
When Respondent proposes a value at hearing which is different from the value found by the Board of Equalization, Respondent is required to present substantial and persuasive evidence in support of that proposed value.Respondent’s evidence of three recent sales of similar homes all within a close proximity to the subject property and all of which suggested a narrow range of market values for similar homes, is substantial and persuasive evidence that the correct value of the subject property was $170,000 on the tax day.
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The assessed value determined by the Board of Equalization, is SET ASIDE.The Clerk of Platte County is hereby ORDERED to place a new assessed value of $32,300 on the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008.
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of a hearing officer decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision. The application shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.
If an application for review of a hearing officer decision is made to the Commission, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission.If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of Platte County as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.If any protested taxes have been disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031(8), RSMo, either party may apply to the circuit court having jurisdiction of the cause for disposition of the protested taxes held by the taxing authority.
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 February 26, 2008.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Senior Hearing Officer