STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|KENNETH MICHAEL WILMAS,||)|
|Complainant(s),||)||Appeal No. 21-32509|
|)||Parcel No. P1107235|
|SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Kenneth Michael Wilmas (Complainant) appealed the St. Charles County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2020, was $36,075, with an assessed value of $12,024. Complainant claims the personal property is overvalued and proposes a value of $28,679. The BOE decision is affirmed.
The evidentiary hearing was held on August 8, 2022, via Webex. Complainant appeared pro se and Respondent was represented by counsel Amanda Jennings. The appeal was heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer Benjamin Slawson.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property. The subject property is part of the personal property identified by account number is P1107235. The subject property consists of a motor vehicle, a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 Utility 4D LTZ 4WD. At the time of the valuation, January 1, 2021, the vehicle had about 70,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicle had been in an accident. Repairs of the damage were made immediately following the accident in early 2020.
- Assessment and Valuation. Respondent determined the TVM for the subject personal property for the 2021 tax year was $36,075. The BOE independently determined the TVM was $36,075.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant submitted Exhibit A, which is comprised of a PowerPoint presentation of six slides. Exhibit A contains Complainant’s arguments for overvaluation, an excerpt from the vehicle’s Carfax Report, the first page of a Diminished Value Report by The St. Lucie Appraisal Company, as well as information regarding a Diminution in Value Claim Complainant made with an insurance company, USAA. Respondent objected to parts of Exhibit A as hearsay, and these objections were sustained. However, the entirety of Exhibit A was made part of the record, and Complainant was allowed to testify in regards to his personal knowledge and opinions regarding its contents.
Complainant testified that he believes Respondent and the BOE overvalued the vehicle in question because it had been in an accident and therefore has a diminished value. Complainant’s proposed value for the subject property as of January 1, 2021, is $28,679. Complainant testified that he determined this value by reducing Respondent’s appraised value by 19.5%, a percentage that he arrived at using data from AutoTrader.com and Carfax that he asserts shows what vehicles typically are devalued by after an accident. Complainant also stated that he received a Diminished Value Report from the St. Lucie Appraisal Company showing a 17.92% adjustment downward in value for the vehicle based on the accident. Complainant attested that this is contained in one of the slides in Exhibit A.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent introduced three exhibits. Complainant had no objection to Exhibit 1 but objected to Exhibits 2 and 3 on the grounds that he did not believe such documents took into account diminished value of a vehicle due to a previous accident. As these were not legal objections as to admissibility, they were overruled and Exhibits 1-3 were admitted into evidence. The exhibits are described as follows:
|1||Assessment form letter issued by Respondent for the subject property for the 2021 tax year.|
|2||Printout from J.D. Power showing NADA value of a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban as of October 1, 2020.|
|3||Definitions of different valuations for motor vehicles from value resource utilized by Respondent|
Respondent presented the testimony of Michele Baumgartner, who has been the personal property manager of Respondent’s office for almost nine years. Ms. Baumgartner’s duties include determining market values of personal property owned by the citizens of St. Charles County for purposes of ad valorem assessment. Ms. Baumgartner performed an assessment of the subject vehicle using the NADA (National Automobile Dealers’ Association) average trade-in value listed on the website of J.D. Power, the publisher of the NADA Guide. Ms. Baumgartner testified that Exhibit 2 is a printout from J.D. Power indicating the NADA average trade-in value for the subject vehicle as of October 1, 2020, was $36,075. Ms. Baumgartner testified that “average trade in value” is used as opposed to other values such as “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price,” “clean retail,” or “clean trade-in” because it is most representative of fair market value.
Ms. Baumgartner further testified that Exhibit 3 is a printout of J.D. Power value definitions also used by Respondent as a resource. She stressed that “average trade-in value” includes values of vehicles that were in prior accidents, whether or not damage was repaired. In other words, vehicles with prior accidents are factored into this average value. Last, Ms. Baumgartner testified that Exhibit 1 is a true and accurate copy of the Personal Property Assessment Form issued by Respondent for the subject vehicle for the 2021 tax year.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $36,075, with an assessed value of $12,024.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. Motor vehicles not registered as historic motor vehicles are assessed at 33 and 1/3 % of their TVM as of January first of each year. Section 137.115.1. To determine the TVM, “the trade-in value published in the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide” is “the recommended guide of information.” Section 137.115.9. For vehicles more than two years older than the model year, a value more than the average trade-in value can be used only if the assessor performs a physical inspection of such vehicle. Id. For newer vehicles within two years of the model year, the “assessor may use a value other than average without performing a physical inspection of the motor vehicle.” Id. “True value in money means the fair market value of the property on the valuation day.” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 351 (Mo. banc 2005). 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).
- Evidence. “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977). 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 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 to support his $28,679 opinion of value and claim of overvaluation.
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous, and that Complainant’s opinion of value, $28,679, was the TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021. Complainant testified that he believes Respondent and the BOE overvalued the vehicle in question due to the fact that it suffered an accident. Complainant asserted that while the damage was repaired from the accident in 2020, a downward adjustment of 19.5% must be made when determining the TVM. However, Complainant did not conclusively establish with substantial and persuasive evidence that this fact means that the subject vehicle is not “average trade in value,” which is the standard applicable under Section 137.115.9.
In fact, Respondent’s evidence shows otherwise. Ms. Baumgartner, the personal property manager of Respondent’s office for almost nine years, testified that NADA “average trade in value” applies to both vehicles with accident reports and without accident reports. J.D. Power is a resource Respondent uses for to determine the NADA valuation for vehicles. Ms. Baumgartner discussed Exhibit 3, a definitional guide from J.D. Power which states in relevant part for “average trade in:”
The Average Trade-In values on nadaguides.com are meant to reflect a vehicle in average condition. A vehicle that is mechanically sound but may require some repairs/servicing to pass all necessary inspections; Paint, body and wheel surfaces have moderate imperfections and an average finish and shine which can be improved with restorative repair; Interior reflects some soiling and wear in relation to vehicle age, with all equipment operable or requiring minimal effort to make operable[.]
While the evidence establishes that the subject property suffered damage in an accident, the evidence also shows that the subject property was repaired prior to the January 1, 2021, valuation date. Further, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3, and related testimony establish that the $36,075 value is the NADA average trade-in value as of October 1, 2020, and that an average trade-in value reflects a vehicle with, among other things, possible “paint, body and wheel surfaces” with “moderate imperfections” as well as “an average finish and shine which can be improved with restorative repair.”
In summary, Complainant’s evidence did not persuasively show that as of January 1, 2021, the condition of the subject property was below average trade-in condition or that Respondent and the BOE did not properly assess his vehicle under Section 137.115.9. Therefore, Complainant did not persuasively establish that use of the average trade-in value to value the subject property resulted in the overvaluation of the subject property.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $36,075, with an assessed value of $12,024.
Application for Review
A party may file 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 of Missouri, 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. Charles County, and 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 the disputed taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of section 139.031.
SO ORDERED October 7, 2022.
Benjamin C. Slawson
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 October 7, 2022, 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, sec. 14; Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.