STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|v.||)||Appeal No. 12-10572|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
The assessment made by the Board of Equalization of St. Louis County (BOE) is SET ASIDE. Subject property is to be assessed as it was in 2011; the market value of $800, agricultural assessed value of $100.
Case taken under advisement by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
Complainant appealed on the ground of misclassification.
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.
- Evidentiary Hearing. The issue of classification was submitted on exhibits at the request of the parties.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by parcel/locator number 17U130734. It is further identified as 702 Long Road Crossing Drive, St. Louis County, Missouri.
- Assessment. In 2011, the property was classified as agricultural and appraised at $800 ($100 assessed value). In 2012, the property was classified as commercial and appraised at $143,800.
- Board of Equalization. The BOE sustained Respondent’s true market value and classification of the subject property in 2012.
- Complainant’s Evidence.
|A||Affidavit of Rand Rupel: He farmed the property in June 2012|
|B||Affidavit of Christopher Kehr: The property was planted in late 2010 and again in May or June 2012.|
|C||Ruppel Brothers Statement that they maintain the property|
|D||Invoice Ruppel Brothers dated 7/6/2012 for brushhogging, disking, planting|
|E||BOE RE6 Supplemental: Agricultural Property.|
|F||Assessment Appeal Form with attached Exhibit of an Impact Notice dated June 4, 2012 indicating a change of classification from Agricultural to Commercial and Reason for Change: Change in Class|
|G||IRS Form 4835 Farm Rental|
|H||Bill for spraying winter wheat October 2012|
|I||Photographs of property in October 2012|
|J||Photographs of property in October 2012|
|K||Photographs of property in October 2012|
|L||Bill for sowing wheat in December 2003- 2007|
|M||Combined Services bill to Complainant to brush hog lot twice a year from 2008 thru 2011|
|WDT||Christopher Kerr: He has been planting on this property since 2001. A leased farming occurred from 2001 to 2008. The property was brush hogged only until 2012. The witness testified that there was construction on or around the property in 2004 and 2007-2008.|
- Respondent’s Evidence Respondent filed no evidence.
- Classification. The property’s proper classification in 2012 is agriculture. The classification of real property is part of an assessment and cannot change in the even year without new construction.
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 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.
Issuance of Decision Absent Evidentiary Hearing
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 Board of Equalization, correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious. Section 138.431.5 RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.080 (2) The filing of exhibits and written direct testimony establishes the basis upon which opportunity for an evidentiary hearing can be held. The Complainant has the burden to present substantial and persuasive evidence. The Respondent did not file any rebuttal exhibits. Therefore, the Hearing Officer simply considered the exhibit filed and then proceed to ascertain if said exhibit met the standard of substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the market value of the property.
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.
Two-Year Assessment Cycle
The Assessor shall annually assess all real property in the following manner: new assessed values shall be determined as of January first of each odd-numbered year and shall be entered in the assessor’s books; those same assessed values shall apply in the following even-numbered year, except for new construction and property improvements which shall be valued as though they had been completed as of January first of the preceding odd-numbered year. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
The exception to the “two-year cycle” occurs when agricultural “becomes property other than agricultural and horticultural property.” In this limited circumstance, the property shall be reassessed as of the following January first, i.e., the even year.
Statutes Given Effect As Written
Statutes are to be given effect as written and there is no need for construction of a statute which is clear on its face. The plain language of the statue is to be given effect. State Bd. of
Registration for Healing Arts v. Boston, 72 S.W.3d 260 (Mo. App. W.D. 2002); Bright v. Bright, 989 S.W.2d 196 (Mo. App. S.D. 1999); McDermott v. Carnahan, 934 S.W.2d 285 (Mo. 1996).
Classification of the Property
The assessor makes two determinations when assessing property: (1) true value in money and (2) classification. The property was classified as agricultural as of January 1, 2011. No change in classification can be made in the present case as the Assessor may only assess properties in the odd-numbered unless it is established that the property became something other than agricultural and horticultural property. See Two-Year Assessment Cycle
Because the word “shall” is used throughout the statute setting forth the authority of the assessor, the assessor is mandated to use the same assessment in the even-numbered year as was used in the preceding odd-numbered year with the sole exception being where there has been new construction and property improvements. In the present case, the qualifying condition of new construction or property improvements does not exist. Although there was testimony of construction on and around the property in prior cycles, there was no evidence of new construction or property improvements to the subject during the year 2011. The plain language of the statute must be given effect. See, Statutes Given Effect As Written, supra. The compulsory language of the statute mandates the classification remain unchanged for the year 2012.
In J.C. Nichols v. Boley, Jackson County, STC Appeal 92-33346 (1993), the Commission held that “because there was no new construction and property improvements during 1991, the commercial classification must be maintained for 1992; otherwise, the assessed value would be changed.” The “change” would be, of course, in violation of Section 137.115.1, RSMo. A similar decision was reached in Player’s Club at St. Louis v. Muehlheausler, St. Louis County, STC Appeal 01-10810 (2003).
Since there was no new construction, the change in classification can only occur in the even-year when land was assessed as agricultural in the odd year and that land became something other than agricultural in the even-year. The subject property was classified by the Assessor in 2015 as agricultural property. The property remains classified as agricultural property unless the property became “other than agricultural” property. (Section 137.021 RSMo.) The owner testified to the planting of soybeans. The unrefuted evidence was that the property was used as agricultural in the even-year as the property was devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops
The classification of the property must remain as determined in 2011 as agriculture.
The property is assessed in 2012 as assessed in 2011:
True Value of $800
Assessed Value of $100 (Agriculture)
Application for Review
A party 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 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 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 139.031.8, 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 November 22, 2016.
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 22nd day of November, 2016, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.