State Tax Commission of Missouri
|LION’S CHOICE DEVELOPMENT,||)||Appeal Number 11-13789|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the County Board of Equalization is SET ASIDE. Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2011 and 2012 is set at $495.000, commercial assessed value of $158,400.
Complainant appeared by counsel James P. Gamble.
Respondent appeared by counsel Priscilla Gunn.
Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
Complainant appeals, on the grounds of overvaluation the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2011. The value as of January 1 of the odd numbered year remains the value as of January 1 of the following even numbered year unless there is new construction and improvement to the property. Section 137.115.1 RSMo
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 from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
- Evidentiary Hearing. Evidentiary Hearing in this appeal occurred on May 16, 2016.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by map parcel number 29W510159. It is further identified as 1737 W 5th St, St. Louis County, Missouri.
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of a 1.15 acre tract of land improved with a restaurant of 2834 square feet constructed in 1978. The improvement is in below average condition.
- Assessment. The Assessor appraised the property at $637,000. The Board of Equalization sustained valuation.
- Complainant’s Evidence. The Complainant submitted Exhibit A – Appraisal Report – and Exhibit C – Written Direct Testimony of certified Appraiser Susan Fanning. (Exhibit B, the written direct testimony of John Hottle was withdrawn) The appraiser developed the sales comparison and income approaches to value. The appraiser concluded an opinion of value of $495,000.
- No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2011, to January 1, 2012, therefore the assessed value for 2011 remains the assessed value for 2012. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Exhibits 1 (Professional qualifications of Angela Falvey), 3 (Land sales ranging from $8.43 to $15.70/sq ft.), 4 (map of the properties in Exhibit 3), Exhibits 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were not admitted into evidence.
The Respondent’s witness is employed with St. Louis County. She works in the commercial division but is not a general, certified appraiser. The witness did not appraise the property or form an opinion of value. The portions of the review report in which the witness made comments regarding the credibility of the certified appraiser were excluded.
Exhibit 3 – land sales -was used during the cross examination of the Complainant’s expert. The expert stated that three of the land sales were irrelevant due to the date of the sales (2008) and the sale in 2010 for $400,000 supported her position that the highest and best use of the property was as improved.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Rebutted. Complainant’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, 2011 at $495,000.
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 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.
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 and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money. Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money; commercial property at 32% of true value in money and agricultural property at 12% of true value in money.
Presumption In Appeal
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization. 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). 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. Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See, Cupples-Hesse, supra. 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. Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainants 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, 2011. Hermel, supra. 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.” 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). A valuation which does not reflect the fair market value (true value in money) of the property under appeal is an unlawful, unfair and improper assessment.
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. 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). True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973). It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. Hermel, supra. Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in a 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:
- Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
- Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
- A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
- Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
- Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
- 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. 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.
Methods of Valuation
Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission. It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case. See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra; Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975). Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).
The Complainant presented the testimony and report of a general certified appraiser. The appraiser valued the subject property using the sales comparison approach and the income approach. The appraiser, in the income approach, reviewed the leases of four comparable rentals and CoStar report to establish a market vacancy and collection rate. Expenses were estimated. After establishing net operating income, the appraiser developed a capitalization rate by reviewing sales. The income approach indicated a value of $490,000 if the property was stabilized.
The appraiser also developed the sales comparison approach. After reviewing market sales, the appraiser concluded a value of $175 per square foot for an indication of value of $500,000.
The appraiser’s next step was to reconcile the approaches. The appraiser gave equal weight to the approaches and concluded a value of $495,000.
Highest and Best Use
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. Aspenhof Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 789 S.W. 2d 867, 869 (Mo. App. 1990). It is true that property can only be valued according to a use to which the property is readily available. But this does not mean that in order for a specific use to be the highest and best use for calculating the property’s true value in money, that particular use must be available to anyone deciding to purchase the property. . . .A determination of the true value in money cannot reject the property’s highest and best use and value the property at a lesser economic use of the property. Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W. 3d, 341, 348-349 (Mo. 2005).
Neither USPAP nor the Appraisal of Real Estate requires the appraiser to develop a vacant land sale analysis of an improved property. USPAP only requires the appraiser to state the use of the property as of the date of value and the use of the property reflected in the appraisal. If the appraiser develops an opinion as to the highest and best use, the appraiser must state the use and summarize how the opinion was formed. Appraisal of Real Estate states that if the opinion of value is for an improved property, a highest and best use as improved is required.
The Hearing Officer placed little weight on the appraisal review report. The reviewer is not a certified, general appraiser. The reviewer did not inspect the property or form an opinion of value. The reviewer was critical of the certified appraiser for not forming an opinion of the property as if vacant. Such is not persuasive as the certified appraiser developed an opinion of value as improved. Further when questioned about vacant land sales, the certified appraiser noted that the vacant land sales supported her position that the highest and best use of the property was improved.
Weight to be Given Evidence
The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, 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).
The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as he may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances. The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part. St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992); Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.
The value for the subject property for tax years 2011 and 2012 is set at $495,000, assessed value of $158,400.
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 this June 16, 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 June 16, 2016, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the county Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and county Collector.
Contact Information for State Tax Commission:
Missouri State Tax Commission
301 W. High Street, Room 840
P.O. Box 146
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146