Linda Ethridge v. Holman (Jefferson)

December 23rd, 2008

State Tax Commission of Missouri





v.) Appeal No.08-34129










Decision of the Jefferson County Board of Equalization is SET ASIDE.Hearing Officer finds Respondent rebutted the presumption of correct assessment by the Board. True value in money for the subject property for tax year 2008 is set at $225,000, residential assessed value of $42,750.Complainant appeared pro se.Respondent appeared by counsel David Senkel.Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.


The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2008.


Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Jefferson County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $212,600, assessed value of $40,400, as residential property.Complainant proposed a value of $161,700, assessed value of $30,723.A hearing was conducted on December 8, 2008, at the Jefferson County Administration Building, Hillsboro, Missouri.At the hearing, the Respondent proposed a value of $225,000.

The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.

Complainant’s Evidence

Complainant testified in her own behalf.She proposed a value of $161,700.Complainant submitted Exhibit A.Exhibit A consists of photographs and MLS information on the subject property and four properties in a subdivision next to the subject property’s subdivision.

Respondent’s Evidence

Respondent presented the testimony of Joseph Berezowski, Jefferson County Assessor’s Officer Appraiser. Joseph Berezowski testified relative to his valuation of the subject property and offered into evidence Exhibit 1.Exhibit 1 was received into evidence.Exhibit 1 is a narrative appraisal report on the subject property.


1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Jefferson County Board of Equalization.

2.The subject property is located at 1177 Riesling Lane, Pevely, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 10-3.0-07.0-172.The subject property is a 0.32 lot with an improvement.The improvement is a single family residence of 1,868 square feet gross living area above grade and 1,814 square foot unfinished basement.The residence has six rooms including three bedrooms and two baths.The improvements were completed in September 2007 with a purchase price of $234,000.A realtor was involved in the transaction.The property was appraised for the Complainant for a loan in September 2007 and again in April 2008.

3.Respondent’s evidence was substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2008, to be $225,000, as proposed.



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 board of equalization, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.[1]

Presumptions In Appeals

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.[2]Complainant’s purchase of the property in 2007 constituted substantial and persuasive evidence of the fair market value of the subject property.

Standard for Valuation

Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so.[3]It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.[4]Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.

Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:

1.Buyer and seller are typically motivated.

2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.

3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.

4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.

5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.

6.The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction.[5]

Complainant’s Burden of Proof

In order to prevail, Complainant must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2008.[6]There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof.The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.Therefore, the Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”[7]

Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[8]Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.[9]

Owner’s Opinion of Value

The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.[10]The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.[11]

Complainant’s opinion of value is based upon improper elements and foundation.The Complainant presented information regarding four other properties.The information included the sales date of the properties, the selling price and the true value in 2007 as set by the Assessor.The properties are located in a neighboring subdivision and were built from 2000-2003.After comparing the properties sales price in 2007 and 2008 with the Assessor’s true values on the property in 2007, the Complainant concluded on a value for her property for 2008 of $161,700.

The methodology used by Complainant in establishing true value of the property is flawed.First, comparing the subject property with other properties that sold requires market based adjustments for differences in age, location, lot sizes, improvement sizes, condition, quality, etc.Second, comparing sales prices in late 2007 and early 2008, with true value as of January 1, 2007, as determined by the Assessor, and using those comparisons to extrapolate a true value for the subject property as of January 1, 2008, is not a methodology recognized by the State Tax Commission to determine the market value of the property.

Respondent’s Burden of Proof

Respondent, when advocating a value different from that determined by the Board of Equalization, must meet the same burden of proof to present substantial and persuasive evidence of the value advocated as required of the Complainant under the principles established by case law.[12]In this instance, the Board set the value for the residential property at $212,600.Respondent presented substantial and persuasive evidence of a value of $225,000.The presumption of correct assessment was rebutted and a higher value established.

Respondent’s Opinion of Value

Evidence of the actual sales price of property is admissible to establish value at the time of an assessment, provided that such evidence involves a voluntary purchase not too remote in time.The actual sale price is a method that may be considered for estimating true value.The actual sales price, between a willing seller who is not obligated to sell and a willing buyer who is not compelled to buy, establishes an outer limit on the value of real property.[13]

Furthermore, a price agreed to between a willing buyer and seller creates a presumption the transaction was a market transaction.[14]There is no evidence upon which the Hearing Officer can conclude that the Complainant’s purchase was anything other than an arm’s-length, open market transaction.The September 2007 purchase was at a time relevant to the January 1, 2008, valuation.The purchase price of the property was $234,000.

The Respondent further presented a Summary Appraisal Report.The Appraisal used a cost approach and a sales comparison approach, both methodologies recognized by the State Tax Commission.Under the cost approach, the appraiser used the Marshall and Swift Residential Cost Guide and concluded a value of $226,000.Under the sales comparison approach, the appraiser concluded a value of $225,000.The appraiser compared the subject property to three sales.The comparable properties were located in the same subdivision as the subject property; Comparable 1 was on the same street and the subject property, Comparable 2 was across the street from the subject property, and Comparable 3 was four lots away from the subject property.The Comparables sold from August 24, 2007, to November 9, 2007.The only differences in the properties were small differences in lot size, the number of garages, and deck/fireplace options.The appraiser made appropriate adjustments to the comparable properties resulting in a range of values from $221,200 to $227,880.The appraiser concluded a value of $225,000.

The appraiser placed most weight on the comparable sales approach as it reflects the actual market and the availability of the recent sales of properties within a close proximity of the subject property.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for Jefferson County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.

The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2008 is set at $42,750.

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the date set forth in the Certificate of Service.The application shall contain specific 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, MO65102-0146, 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 appeal is based will result in summary denial. [15]

The Collector of Jefferson County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending a 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 December 23, 2008.



Maureen Monaghan

Hearing Officer

Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 23rdday of December, 2008, to:Linda Ethridge, 1177 Riesling Lane, Pevely, MO 63070, Complainant; David Senkel, One Thurman Court, P.O. Box 800, Hillsboro, MO 63050, Attorney for Respondent; Randy Holman, Assessor; Wes Wagner, Clerk; Beth Mahn, Collector, Jefferson County Courthouse, Hillsboro, MO 63050.


Barbara Heller

Legal Coordinator

[1] Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.


[2] 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) Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).


[3] St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).


[4] Hermel, supra.


[5] Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5; Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Glossary.


[6] Hermel, supra.


[7] 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).


[8] See, Cupples-Hesse, supra.


[9] Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).


[10] Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970).


[11] Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).


[12] Hermel, Cupples-Hesse, Brooks, supra.

[13] St. Joe Minerals Corp., supra.


[14] Phoenix Redevelopment Corporation v. Walker, 812 S.W.2d, 881, 883-4 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991).

[15] Section 138.432, RSMo.