STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|v.||)||Appeal No. 17-74003|
|Parcel/Locator No. 14-3.0-06-002-004-041|
|CHERYLE PERKINS, ASSESSOR,||)|
|NEWTON COUNTY, MISSOURI,
DECISION AND ORDER
The assessment of the subject property is SET ASIDE. Jamie Arnall (Complainant) presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the BOE.
Complainant appeared pro se.
Cheryle Perkins, Assessor, Newton County, Missouri, (Respondent) appeared pro se.
Case heard and decided by Chief Counsel Maureen Monaghan (Hearing Officer).
Complainant appealed on the ground of overvaluation. The true value in money (TVM) of the subject property was set at $96,400 ($16,000 Land TVM & $80,400 Improvement TVM), as commercial property, as of January 1, 2017. The State Tax Commission (STC) takes this appeal to determine the TVM for the subject property as of January 1, 2017.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission after she purchased the property on August 29, 2017.
- Evidentiary Hearing. The issue of overvaluation was presented at an evidentiary hearing on March 9, 2018, at the Newton County Courthouse, Neosho, Missouri.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by parcel/locator number 14-3.0-06-002-004-041.000 It is further identified as 112 N. Main Street, Granby, Newton County, Missouri.
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of .22 acres, improved by a two-story commercial building in a dilapated state.
- Assessment. The Assessor’s Office set a TVM for the subject property of $96,400, commercial, as of January 1, 2017.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant opined that the subject property’s TVM as of January 1, 2017, was $16,000. To support Complainant’s opinion of value, Complainant offered as evidence the following exhibits:
|Exhibit A||2017 Tax Statement|
|Exhibit B||Property Record Card dated February 28, 2018|
|Exhibit C||Transaction of sale of property dated August 29, 2017. Sale price $10,000|
|Exhibit D||Granby Chief of Police setting forth the history of building code violations including roof collapse in 2015|
|Exhibit E||Granby Police Department warning of nusiance violation for weeds|
|Exhibit F||Photograph of weeds and vegetation impacting property|
|Exhibit G||Photograph of weeds and vegetation impacting property|
|Exhibit H||1/11/17 Violation for Roof issues|
|Exhibit I||Photograph of Tin Roof issues|
|Exhibit J||Photograph of interior and damage due to roof issues|
|Exhibit K||Photograph of collapsed staircase and balcony inside the structure|
|Exhibit L||Photograph of interior damage due to roof issues|
Complainant testified that she purchased the property from an elderly man who could not take care of the property and was receiving citations for health and nuisance issues. The man had operated an antique store in the location. Approximately a decade prior to selling the property, the man had closed his business but did not sell the inventory he had at the time.
The purchase price of the subject property was $10,000 in August 2017 and included the contents of the building. Complainant hoped to find items inside which she could sell to help pay for the extensive repairs necessary to the structure. The interior, including the contents, were in poor condition due to a portion of the tin roof which had come off sometime in the past.
The damage inside and outside of the structure were more extensive than Complainant believed at the time of the purchase. The lack of roofing on a portion of the building caused extensive damage to the interior which included the rotting of wood, collapse of stair case and balcony, and other damage.
Complainant allowed the Respondent to tour the building. Upon interior inspection, Respondent agreed that the structure provided no added value to the property.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered as evidence the following exhibits:
|Exhibit 1||Property Record Card dated August 2017|
|Exhibit 2||Property Record Card dated March 2015|
|Exhibit 3||Property Value from 2005 – 2018|
|Exhibit 4||Transfer of Property|
|Exhibit 5||Property Record Card 2018|
Respondent testified that she became the Assessor of Newton County in September 2017. At the time of taking office, the assessment books for 2017 were closed and therefore she did not have the authority to make any changes to the valuation of the subject property for 2017.
Respondent stated that the exterior of the subject property is in average condition. The roof is a flat roof on a two-story structure and therefore is not visible from a field review. Complainant granted her permission to view the interior and provided additional information regarding the condition of the property.
Respondent concurs the building provides no additional value to the land of the subject parcel.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Rebutted. Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and establish TVM of $16,000.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The STC 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 Hearing Officer 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. Article X, Section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.
Basis of Assessment
The Constitution mandates that real property and tangible personal property be 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. The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute, real property and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money: residential property at 19%; commercial property at 32%; and agricultural property at 12%. Section 137.115.5 RSMo (2000) as amended.
Investigation by Hearing Officer
In order to investigate appeals filed with the STC, 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 RSMo (2000) as amended. 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.
During the Evidentiary Hearing, the Hearing Officer inquired of Complainant and Respondent.
Complainant’s Burden of Proof
To obtain a reduction in assessed valuation based upon an alleged overvaluation, the Complainant must prove the TVM of the subject property on the subject tax day. Hermel, Inc., v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). TVM is defined as the price that the subject property would bring when offered for sale by one willing but not obligated to sell it and bought by one willing or desirous to purchase but not compelled to do so. Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 S.W.3d 357, 365 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012); Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008); Greene County v. Hermel, Inc., 511 S.W.2d 762, 771 (Mo. 1974). TVM is defined in terms of value in exchange and not in terms of value in use. Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973). In sum, TVM is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, Inc., 564 S.W.2d at 897.
“’True value’ is never an absolute figure, but is merely an estimate of the fair market value on the valuation date.” Drury Chesterfield, Inc., v. Muehlheausler, 347 S.W.3d 107, 112 (Mo. App. E.D. 2011), citing St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n of Mo., 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993). “Fair market value typically is defined as the price which the property would bring when offered for sale by a willing seller who is not obligated to sell, and purchased by a willing buyer who is not compelled to buy.” Drury Chesterfield, Inc., 347 S.W.3d at 112 (quotation omitted).
A presumption exists that the assessed value fixed by the BOE is correct. Rinehart, 363 S.W.3d at 367; Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348; Hermel, Inc., 564 S.W.2d at 895. “Substantial and persuasive controverting evidence is required to rebut the presumption, with the burden of proof resting on the taxpayer.” Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348. Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959). Persuasive evidence is evidence that has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact. Cupples Hesse Corp., 329 S.W.2d at 702. 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). See also, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003).
There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a STC 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.” Westwood Partnership, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003); Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991).
Generally, a property owner, while not an expert, is competent to testify to the reasonable market value of his own land. Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348-49; Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992). “However, when an owner’s opinion is based on improper elements or foundation, his opinion loses its probative value.” Carmel Energy, Inc., 827 S.W.2d at 783. 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. E.D. 1980).
Weight to be Given Evidence
The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule, or method in determining TVM and 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 deemed necessary when viewed in connection with all other circumstances. Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991). The Hearing Officer, as the trier of fact, is not bound by the opinions of experts but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony or accept it in part or reject it in part. Exchange Bank of Missouri v. Gerlt, 367 S.W.3d 132, 135-36 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012).
Both parties agree the improvement on the property does not add value due to its condition. The Respondent’s valuation of the land is $16,000. Both parties state that the land value is TVM for the subject property.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2017 is set at $5,120 commercial ($16,000 TVM).
Application for Review
A party may file with the STC an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision. The application shall contain specific facts or law as 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 application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo
The Collector of Newton 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 139.031.8, 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 March 27, 2018.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 27th day of March, 2018, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.