State Tax Commission of Missouri
|KOMA MFG. & DIST., INC.||)||Appeal No.||16-79003 (17-6.0-23-000-000-019.000)|
|NEDBLAKE JR. GW LIVING TRUST||)||16-79005 (17-7.0-25-000-000-051.000)|
|KCI PARTNERS ACQUISITION, LLC||)||16-79006 (17-7.0-26-000-000-001.001)|
|BANK LIBERTY||)||16-79007 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.000)|
|DAVID COX, ASSESSOR||)|
|PLATTE COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decisions of the Platte County Board of Equalization (BOE) sustaining the assessments, including classifications, made by the Assessor [other than 16-79006 (17-7.0-26-000-000-001.001) which property’s value was lowered] are SET ASIDE. Complainants presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessments by the BOE.
True value in money (TMV) for the subject properties for tax year 2016 are set at:
|16-79003 (17-6.0-23-000-000-019.000)||$3,623 agricultural productive value|
|16-79004 (17-6.0-23-000-000-020.000)||$2,960 agricultural productive value|
|16-79005 (17-7.0-25-000-000-051.000)||$3,498 agricultural productive value|
|16-79006 (17-7.0-26-000-000-001.001)||$1,553 agricultural productive value|
|16-79007 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.000)||$4,678 agricultural productive value|
|16-79008 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.003)||$4,492 agricultural productive value|
Complainant was represented by attorney Michael Hunter
Respondent was represented by attorney John Shank
Case heard on the record and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of misclassification, the decisions of the Platte County BOE, which sustained the classifications of the subject properties. The Commission takes these appeals to determine classifications for the subject properties as they existed on January 1, 2015.
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 these appeals is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decisions of the Platte County BOE. The appeal was submitted on the record by agreement of the parties.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject properties are identified as follows and are all located in Platte County, Missouri
(Complainants for Review of Assessment)
- Description of Subject Property. The subject properties are all vacant lots with the following number of acres:
|16-79003 (17-6.0-23-000-000-019.000)||3.5 acres|
|16-79004 (17-6.0-23-000-000-020.000)||2.86 acres|
|16-79005 (17-7.0-25-000-000-051.000)||3.38 acres|
|16-79006 (17-7.0-26-000-000-001.001)||1.5 acres|
|16-79007 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.000)||4.52 acres|
|16-79008 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.003)||4.34 acres|
Prior to January 1, 2015 and at all times pertinent to these appeals, each lot has been fertilized and seeded for soybeans and winter wheat, with the crops being harvested and sold at a grain elevator. (Written Direct Testimony (WDT) of Preston Owen and Exhibits Attached Thereto in each Appeal, WDT and Attachments of Allen Hickman in each Appeal and Appraisals of Bruce Wanamaker in each Appeal).
- Assessment. The Assessor and BOE valued the properties at the following true market commercial values:
|Appeal Number and Parcel||TMV||BOE TMV|
(Complaints for Review of Assessment).
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant offered into evidence the WDT of Preston Owens and exhibits attached thereto in each appeal. The exhibits consisted of pictures of the subject properties. The WDT and the exhibits were received into evidence without objection.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered into evidence the WDT of Allen Hickman with pictures attached thereto in each appeal, the WDT and exhibits consisting of appraisals of Bruce Wanamaker in each appeal and the WDT of Theresa Emerson in appeal 16-79003. The WDT and the exhibits were received into evidence without objection.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Rebutted – Classification and Productive Value Established. The evidence presented by Complainants was substantial and persuasive to both rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the BOE and to allow the Hearing Officer to determine the correct classification and to set a productive value for the subject properties classified as agricultural to be:
|16-79003 (17-6.0-23-000-000-019.000)||$3,622.50 agricultural productive value|
|16-79004 (17-6.0-23-000-000-020.000)||$2,960.10 agricultural productive value|
|16-79005 (17-7.0-25-000-000-051.000)||$3,498.30 agricultural productive value|
|16-79006 (17-7.0-26-000-000-001.001)||$1,552.50 agricultural productive value|
|16-79007 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.000)||$4,678.20 agricultural productive value|
|16-79008 (20-1.0-01-000-000-016.003)||$4,491.90 agricultural productive value|
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. 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.
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 BOE, correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious. Section 138.431.5 RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.080 (2). Both parties agreed to submit these appeals upon the record. The filing of exhibits and written direct testimony establishes the basis upon which opportunity for an evidentiary hearing can be held. The Complainants have the burden to present substantial and persuasive evidence. The Hearing Officer considered all the exhibits and written direct testimony and then proceeded to ascertain if said exhibits and written direct testimony met the standard of substantial and persuasive evidence to establish proper classifications for the subject properties..
Presumption In Appeal
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County BOE. Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958). This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayers – Complainants. When some substantial evidence is produced by a Complainant, “however slight”, the presumption disappears and the Hearing Officer, as trier of facts, receives the issue free of the presumption. United Missouri Bank of Kansas City v. March, 650 S.W.2d 678, 680-81 (Mo. App. 1983), citing to State ex rel. Christian v. Lawry, 405 S.W.2d 729, 730 (Mo. App. 1966) and cases therein cited.
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail in the present appeals, Complainants must present substantial and persuasive evidence of the proper classifications of the subject properties on January 1, 2015 and the proper grade if agricultural. Hermel, supra. There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. A taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof. The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. Therefore, the Complainants in these appeals bear the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” See, 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); Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
The BOE affirmed the Assessor’s determination of classification for the subject parcels. Accordingly, the taxpayers must rebut that presumption in order to prevail. The taxpayers must establish by substantial and persuasive evidence that the classifications concluded by the BOE were in error and what the correct classifications should be and the appropriate values.
Under Missouri statutory law, property shall be classified as agricultural and horticultural property when “real property [is] used for agricultural purposes and devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops . . .” Section 137.016.1(2) RSMo. The classification is determined by the actual use put to the property. Northtown Village v. Don Davis, Assessor, Jasper County. Mo., Appeal Nos. 03-62558 (May 27, 2004)[ providing that the definitions in Section 137.016 (2000) illustrate that “the classification turns on the actual use put to the property.] Cutting hay is an agricultural activity and such activity is sufficient to cause real property to be classified as “agricultural property.” Dickerson v. Curtis Koons, Assessor, Cass County, Mo. Appeal Number 01-49004 (June 11, 2002); Ernest W. Giddens, Trustee v. Rick Kessinger, Assessor, Greene County, MO., Appeal No. 05-33000 (Commission Decision April 19, 2007).
Weight to be Given Evidence
The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining classification and/or value, 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).
Complainants’ Proves Agricultural Use
Complainants presented substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that all of the properties are utilized for agricultural purposes. Each lot has been fertilized and seeded for soybeans and winter wheat at all times pertinent to these appeals, with the crops being harvested and sold at a grain elevator.
It is the actual use of the property and not the intent of Complainants that is relevant to a determination regarding agricultural use. The motivation of Complainant for utilizing property for agricultural purposes is not relevant as long as the requirements for agricultural designation are fulfilled.
Complainant presented no evidence regarding the value of the subject properties. Land that is utilized for agricultural purposes is to be valued pursuant to its productive value.
Section 137.017. 1 RSMo states:
For general property assessment purposes, the true value in money of land which is in use as agricultural and horticultural property, as defined in section 137.016, shall be that value which such land has for agricultural or horticultural use.
Section 137.021. 1 RSMo states in pertinent part:
The assessor, in grading land which is devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops, to the feeding, breeding and management of livestock, to dairying, or to any combination thereof, as defined in section 137.016, pursuant to the provisions of sections 137.017 to 137.021, shall in addition to the assessor’s personal knowledge, judgment and experience, consider soil surveys, decreases in land valuation due to natural disasters, level of flood protection, governmental regulations limiting the use of such land, the estate held in such land, and other relevant information. On or before December thirty-first of each odd-numbered year, the state tax commission shall promulgate by regulation and publish a value based on productive capability for each of the several grades of agricultural and horticultural land. If such rules are not disapproved by the general assembly … they shall take effect on January first of the next odd-numbered year. Such values shall be based upon soil surveys, soil productivity indexes, production costs, crop yields, appropriate capitalization rates and any other pertinent factors, all of which may be provided by the college of agriculture of the University of Missouri, and shall be used by all county assessors in conjunction with their land grades in determining assessed values. …
In that Complainants failed to present any evidence regarding the appropriate grade of agricultural property for each property subject to appeal, the Hearing Officer will assign a Grade 1 value to each property as this value is the highest productive value per acre. Pursuant to 12 CSR 30-4.010(1)(A) grade 1 property is to be valued at $1,035 per acre.
The classifications for the subject properties as determined by the Assessor and BOE for Platte County for the subject tax day are SET ASIDE.
The classification for the subject properties for tax year 2016 are determined to be agricultural and the assessed values set as follows:
|Appeal Number and Parcel||Assessed Value|
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 Platte 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 this 11th day of April, 2017
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 11th day of April, 2017, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.