State Tax Commission of Missouri
MICHAEL HARRIS, )
v. ) Appeal No. 12-10615
JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR, )
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, )
DECISION AND ORDER
Appeal Dismissed. Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization setting the assessed value for Complainants’ personal property is AFFIRMED. Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true values in money for the subject items of personal property as of 1/1/12.
Assessed value of Complainant’s personal property for tax year 2012 is set at $1,270.
Complainant appealed pro se.
Respondent represented by Associate County Counselor, Paula J. Lemerman.
Case submitted on documents and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Board of Equalization which set an assessed value of $1,270 on Complainant’s personal property. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the Complainant’s personal property on January 1, 2012. The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainants timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
2. Submission on Documents. By Order, dated 2/20/13, parties were to file and exchange their exhibits to be used for their case in chief. Parties were to inform the Hearing Officer on or before April 1, 2013, if they desired to have an evidentiary hearing or would waive hearing and have the case decided upon the exhibits submitted by each party. Parties failed to so inform the Hearing Officer, parties are therefore deemed to have consented and waived their rights to an evidentiary hearing.
3. Subject Property. The subject property consists of the motor vehicles listed for Account No. 870140417, as shown on Exhibit 1. The Board set the assessed value for the property at $1,270.
4. Complainant’s Evidence. By the Order, dated 2/20/13, Complainant was to file with the Commission and exchange with the Respondent a copy of the exhibits, including a brief Statement of Basis of Value, to be used in his case in chief. These documents were to be filed on or before April 1, 2013. Complainant did not comply with the Order.
5. Respondent’s Evidence. The following exhibits are received into evidence on behalf of Respondent:
Listing of Vehicles – Account No. 870140417
NADA Low Retail Base Price 1983 Porsche 928 S 2D Coupe
Written Direct Narrative – Linda Edison
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.
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. The constitutional mandate is to find the true value in money for the property under appeal. By statute real and tangible personal property is assessed at set percentages 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. This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. It places the burden of going forward with some substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainant. 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. Taxpayer presented no evidence, accordingly, the presumption of correct assessment by the Board was not rebutted.
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. True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use. It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date. 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.
Complainant Fails To Prove Value
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 items of personal property on January 1, 2012. There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof. Therefore, Complainant must present evidence proving the vital elements of the case that is the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” 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.
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. 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.
Complainant failed to comply with the Order on submission of evidence to establish his case in chief. Accordingly, there is no evidence upon the Hearing Officer can conclude that the presumption of correct assessment by the Board should be rebutted. Appeal is dismissed for failure to comply with the rules and order of the Commission, failure of prosecution, and failure to present a prima facie case for the relief sought.
The assessed valuation for the subject personal property as determined by the St. Louis County Board of Equalization for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for Account Number 870140417for tax year 2012 is set at: $1,270.
Application for Review
Complainant 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. 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.
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 April 30, 2013.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 30th day of April, 2013, to: Michael Harris, P.O. Box 771062, St. Louis, MO 63177, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, Attorney for Respondent, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; Eugene Leung, Acting Collector of Revenue, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.
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
 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)
 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).
 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.
 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).
Substantial and persuasive evidence is not an extremely high standard of evidentiary proof. It is the lowest of the three standards for evidence (substantial & persuasive, clear and convincing, and beyond a reasonable doubt). It requires a small amount of evidence to cross the threshold to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board. The definitions, relevant to substantial evidence, do not support a position that substantial and persuasive evidence is an extremely or very high standard.
“Substantial evidence: Evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion; evidence beyond a scintilla.” Black’s Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition, p. 580.
The word scintilla is defined as “1. a spark, 2. a particle; the least trace.” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition. Black’s definition at 1347 is “A spark or trace <the standard is that there must be more than a scintilla of evidence>.” There must be more than a spark or trace for evidence to have attained the standard of substantial. Once there is something more than a spark or trace the evidence has reached the level of substantial. Substantial evidence and the term preponderance of the evidence are essentially the same. “Preponderance of the evidence. The greater weight of the evidence; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other.” Black’s at 1201. Substantial evidence is that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support the conclusion. Preponderance is sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other, i.e. support the proposed conclusion.