STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|)||Appeal No. 19-30288|
|v.||)||Parcel/locator No(s): 30-820-1506-00-0-00-000|
|GAIL MCCANN-BEATTY, ASSESSOR,||)|
|JACKSON, COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Laurie Bedlington (Complainant) appeals the Jackson County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $319,754. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and also proposed the value of $319,754. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed.
Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by Counsel Tara L. Moreland. The evidentiary hearing was conducted on May 26, 2021, via WebEx.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 27 E Concord Ave., in Jackson County, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 30-820-1506-00-0-00-000. The subject property, built in 1913, is a two-story historic single family home. Complainant purchased the subject property in 1984.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $319,754. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $319,754.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant testified the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $319,754. Complainant submitted the following exhibits:
|A||27 E Concord Deed||Admitted|
|B||21 E Concord Deed||Admitted|
|D||27 E Concord Property Account Statement 2017-2019||Admitted|
|E||21 E Concord Property Account Summary 2015-2019||Admitted|
|F||Pictures of Garage and Driveway||Admitted|
Several of Complainant’s Exhibits were admitted over the objection of Respondent, with each Exhibit given the weight deemed appropriate in the context of all the evidence.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibit 1, a 10 page report on the subject property’s value. Respondent’s witness Michael Hall, the staff appraiser for Jackson County, testified to the content of Exhibit 1. Exhibit 1 concludes the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $319,754, affirming the BOE’s valuation.
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $319,754.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation
Pursuant to Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 real property and tangible personal property is 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. 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 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. 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.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Rinehart v. Laclede Gas Co., 607 S.W.3d 220, 227 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020). To prove overvaluation, a taxpayer must rebut the BOE’s presumptively correct valuation and prove the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The taxpayer’s evidence must be both “substantial and persuasive.” 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”). 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. 1980).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation.
Complainant testified Respondent was incorrectly taxing her for a garage on the subject property. Complainant testified she was half owner of the garage (with the other half owned by the property owners of 21 E. Concord Ave.) and the County’s record did not show the correct ownership of the garage. She testified further that the garage in question had been torn down in 2002 and those records from 2002 through 2019 inaccurately showed a garage where none existed. Complainant’s Exhibits A-H outline these arguments. Although accurate, these exhibits do not hold probative value as to the actual issue: the overvaluation of the subject property. The only aspect of Complainant’s testimony that was relevant to the property’s value was that the two car garage atop the roof had been torn down since 2002 and she was being charged tax for the value. Respondent’s witness, Michael Hall, testified the BOE decision did take into account the lack of a garage in its 2019 valuation. Mr. Hall testified that Jackson County sent out a notice of value every odd numbered year indicating the market value at which the County concluded the subject property was worth in accordance with Section 137.115.5. Mr. Hall testified there was no evidence concerning the absence of the detached garage or dispute as to partial ownership prior to the 2019 appeal. The evidence established that the absence of a garage was corrected in Respondent’s 2019 valuation of the subject property. Further, the evidence established that the BOE considered the lack of the garage in its determination of the 2019 value of the subject property. The STC, an administrative agency, has authority to address only the tax cycle under appeal and does not have authority to make adjustments to value for tax cycles prior to the cycle at issue.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $319,754.
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 Jackson 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 June 18, 2021
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Erica M. Gage
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 June 18, 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.