STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Complainant,||)||Appeal No. 19-11666|
|)||Parcel No. 32L530433|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Karen McLean (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $235,000, with an assessed value of $44,650. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and proposes a value of $165,000. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was conducted on March 8, 2021, via WebEx. Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel Monique Nketah.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 5954 Briarmist Place in St. Louis, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 32L530433.
The subject property consists of a .2297 acre lot (Ex. 2 at 1) and a 1,609 square foot single family home (Ex. 2 at 2) that has three bedrooms and three full baths. (Tr. 2:04-19; Ex. 2 at 1)
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $240,400. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $235,000.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant asserts the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $165,000. Complainant testified in support of her opinion of value and submitted the following exhibits:
|A||Two-page letter explaining Complainant’s exhibits and opinion as to value.||Admitted|
|B||Terminix itemization of the amount financed||Admitted|
|C||Hawx service agreement for pest control||Admitted|
|D||One-page Chesterfield Fence and Deck Company, Inc. project proposal to install a new deck for $91,228.35, and one-page March 5, 2021, email from consultant indicating that the deck cannot be repaired because it is “too far out of current building codes” with handwritten note.||Admitted|
|E||One-page July 26, 2021, John Beal Roofing estimate to install new roof for $9,210, or $8,710 with a $500 early payment discount.||Admitted|
|F||Two-page printout of St. Louis County Real Estate Information for 4335 Meadowgreen Trails Drive, Saint Louis, Missouri||Admitted|
|G||Four photographs of top deck of subject property with notes indicating “rotten wood” and a missing deck support.||Admitted|
|H||Four photographs of driveway and deck with notes indicating “driveway has sunk from garage floor,” “lower deck has buckled and dipped,” “vertical slats below handrail on stairs” are missing, and an “attempted repair.”||Admitted|
|I||Four photographs of fencing with notes indicating rotting and termite and carpenter bee damage.||Admitted|
|J||Two photographs with notes indicating “bathroom vanity in bedroom instead of bathroom” and “beam that has cracked ceiling.”||Admitted|
|K||Four photographs of basement floor with notes indicating cracks and water damage.||Admitted|
Respondent objected to Exhibits B through E. Exhibits A through K were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate.
Complainant asserts that the subject property has many issues, including termite damage, rotten wood, a sunken driveway, cracks, and water damage, and needs a new roof and deck. Complainant also contends that the property listed in Exhibit F, which sold for $165,000, is similar to her property.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted the following exhibits:
|1||Findings and Notice of Decision of St. Louis County Board of Equalization dated October 4, 2019.||Admitted|
|2||Two-page residential/rural review document for the subject property dated March 16, 2020.||Admitted|
|3||Real property certificate of value signed by Complainant indicating $235,000 as full consideration for the subject property dated November 13, 2018.||Admitted|
Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 were received into evidence to be given the weight deemed appropriate.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $235,000, with an assessed value of $44,650.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. 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. “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.
- 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). 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.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was overvalued or misclassified. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous” and must prove “the value that should have been placed on the property.” 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”).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous. Although Exhibits G through K and Complainant’s related testimony persuasively show that the subject property had condition issues at the time the photographs were taken, the evidence neither shows that such issues were not considered by the BOE nor the monetary impact such issues had on the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019. Similarly, while exhibits B through E and related testimony show estimates and/or costs related to pest treatment, a new deck, and a new roof, such evidence neither shows that such issues were not considered by the BOE nor the monetary impact such issues have on the TVM of the subject property. Additionally, Exhibit F, which contains information for Complainant’s proposed comparable, 4335 Meadowgreen Trails Drive, and Complainant’s related testimony do not persuasively show that the BOE’s value is incorrect. The evidence does not establish that the Meadowgreen property is an appropriate comparable, and no market-based adjustments were made for differences between the Meadowgreen property and the subject property. The evidence does not establish that determining the value of the subject property based on this one comparable is appropriate. The most recent sale of the Meadowgreen property occurred on January 5, 2016, three years prior to the January 1, 2019, valuation date.
Further, the evidence as a whole supports the BOE valuation of $235,000. Complainant testified that she purchased the subject property for $235,000 in November of 2018 (Ex. A at 1), less than two months before the January 1, 2019, valuation date. The $235,000 value is also supported by the certificate of value reporting the 2018 purchase price of $235,000. (Exhibit 3)
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $235,000, with an assessed value of $44,650.
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 St. Louis 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 December 17, 2021.
Laura A. Storck-Elam
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 December 17, 2021, 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.
 Exhibit A indicates that Complainant considers her “house’s value to be much less than $165,000.” In the Complainant for Review and testimony, Complainant’s opinion of value is $165,000.
 Exhibit D shows the cost of installing a new deck through Chesterfield Fence and Deck as specified around March 5, 2021. Exhibit E shows the cost of installing a new roof through John Beal Roofing as specified as of July 26, 2021. However, the cost of each of these projects does not show that the BOE’s valuation as of January 1, 2019, is incorrect.
 Exhibit F indicates that the Meadowgreen property has three bedrooms, two full baths, and a 1,466 square foot total living area, and sold on August 20, 2003, and again on January 5, 2016, for $165,000. The Meadowgreen property is smaller and has one fewer full bathroom than the subject property.
 Missouri operates on a two-year reassessment cycle for valuing real property. See Section 137.115.1. Absent new construction or improvements to a parcel of real property, the assessed value as of January 1 of the odd year remains the assessed value as of January 1 of the following even year. Id.