Michael Suddarth v. Bishop (Lincoln)

April 11th, 2013

State Tax Commission of Missouri




Complainant, )


v. ) Appeal No. 12-66002





Respondent. )







Decision of the Lincoln County Assessor setting value for Complainant’s automobile is SET ASIDE. Complainant presented substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the true value in money for the subject automobile as of 1/1/12.

True value in money for Complainant’s motor vehicles (combined values) for tax year 2012 is set at $13,680, assessed value of $4,560.

Complainant appealed pro se. Respondent responded pro se.

Case submitted on documents and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.


Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Respondent which set an assessed value of $3,990 on Complainant’s 2009 Toyota Corolla LE. The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the said motor vehicle on January 1, 2012. The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


1. Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission.

2. Submission on Documents. By Order, dated 1/18/13, 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 March 7, 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. Neither party so responded and therefore under the Order both are deemed to have consented to a decision being rendered based upon the exhibits submitted, and waived right to evidentiary hearing.

3. Subject Property. The subject property is a 2009 Toyota Corolla LE, identified by VIN – JTDBL40E099030174. The property is part of the list of personal property identified in Assessor’s Account 011000019729.[1]

4. Values of Non-Appealed Property. The following personal property item, listed in Account 011000019729 is not under appeal:[2]












5. Assessment. The Assessor valued the 2009 Toyota Corolla LE at an appraised value of $11,975, an assessed value of $3,990.[3] The valuation was based upon the 2011 October NADA website listing for the subject vehicle with mileage of 42,500 and as a Clean Trade-In.[4]

6. Complainant’s Evidence. The following exhibits are received into evidence on behalf of Complainant:




NADA 10/11 – Vehicle Summary Trade Value


Pappas Toyota Service Invoice dated 11/26/11


Section 137.115.9 RSMo


Statement of Basis of Value


7. Respondent’s Evidence. The following exhibits are received into evidence on behalf of Respondent:



1 & 2

2012 Personal Property Assessment List – Acc. 011000019729


Vanguard Appraisals Item Value Summary – Acc. 011000019729


Vanguard Appraisals Value Guide – Toyota Corolla-4 cyl Sedan 4D


NADA OnLine – 10/11 – Value


Section 137.115 RSMo


Statement of Basis of Value


8. Vehicle Mileage. The mileage on the subject vehicle as of 11/26/11 was 88,330.[5] Complainant places the mileage as of 1/1/12 at 89,000. Mileage as of 1/1/12 is set for purposes of valuation at 89,000. See, Valuation of Subject VehicleMileage Adjustment, infra.

9. Value of Subject Property. The value of the subject property as of 1/1/12 is set at: $9,690, an assessed value of $3,230, as personal property. See, Valuation of Subject Vehicle – Conclusion of Value, infra.



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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use.[10] It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.[11] 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.[12]


Recommended Guide for Automobile Valuation

The assessor of each county and each city not within a county shall use the trade-in value published in the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide, or its successor publication, as the recommended guide of information for determining the true value of motor vehicles described in such publication. In the absence of a listing for a particular motor vehicle in such publication, the assessor shall use such information or publications which in the assessor’s judgment will fairly estimate the true value in money of the motor vehicle.[13]

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, 2012.[14] 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.”[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Complainant’s evidence standing on its own satisfied the burden of proof.

Valuation of Subject Vehicle

While the evidence presented by the owner, on its own met the required burden of proof, it is necessary for the Hearing Officer to consider all the evidence on the record. Therefore, a review and analysis of both the taxpayer’s and Assessor’s evidence is warranted. This examination provides a sound basis upon which value for Complainant’s automobile can be established.

Valuation by Assessor

The Assessor valued the taxpayer’s automobile based on the October 2011 – NADA OnLine Lookup Clean Trade-In Value without any mileage adjustment. He used a mileage factor of 42,500 for his valuation. The value set by the Assessor was $11,975.[18]

Valuation by Complainant

Mr. Suddarth valued his vehicle relying on the October 2011 – NADA Official Used Car Guide Average Trade-In Value with a mileage adjustment for 89,000 miles. The NADA Adjusted Trade-In value was $10,025.[19]

Hearing Officer Finds Value

There are several variances in the evidence which is presented by the parties to establish the value of the subject automobile. These include the use of different valuation sources, use of different categories of trade-in values and adjustment for mileage. Each of these will be addressed separately.

Valuation Sources

Under section 137.115.9, the recommended guide for assessors in valuing motor vehicles is the trade-in value published in the October NADA Used Car Guide. See, Recommended Guide for Automobile Valuation, supra. The evidence which Complainant presented was a copy of the October 2011 information on his 2009 Toyota Corolla from the “NADA Official Used Car Guide.”[20] The Assessor presented evidence from Vanguard Appraisals Value Guides and NADA OnLine Lookup.[21]

The Hearing Officer has no basis or explanation as to why there are two separate NADA sources that have differing base values for the same vehicle. The Assessor appears to view the OnLine source as the same as the source recommended by the statute.[22] The recommended guide is the “Official Used Car Guide.” This is the source the taxpayer utilized relying on the plain language of the statute. The statute does make reference to a “successor publication” for the Official Used Car Guide. However, there is no evidence that the OnLine Lookup Guide is a successor to the Official Used Car Guide. It appears to be a separate and additional publication. The Hearing Officer concludes that given both sources are presented in this appeal, that equal weight will be given to each as a source, since there is no definitive basis for selecting one over the over to ascertain the base trade-in value.

The October 2011 – NADA OnLine Lookup Average Base Trade-In Value for Complainant’s car was $11,100. The October 2011 – NADA Official Used Car Guide Base Average Trade-in Value for Complainant’s car was $11,775.

The October 2011 – NADA OnLine Lookup Base Clean Trade-In Value for Complainant’s car was $11,975. The October 2011 – NADA Official Used Car Guide Base Clean Trade-in Value for Complainant’s car was $12,675.

Therefore, the range of value for the automobile under appeal was $11,100 to $12,675 depending on whether an average or clean trade-in value is used.

Trade-In Values

The statute does not specify as to whether an assessor is to use the Rough, Average, or Clean Trade-in value. In this particular case, the Hearing Officer has nothing on the record to define any of these three terms. Furthermore, there is no evidence relative to the overall condition of the vehicle. There is no evidence to establish that the Assessor viewed the car and concluded that it fit the Clean Trade-in category. It appears it is simply the Assessor’s practice to use the Clean Trade-In value as opposed to the Average Trade-in value. The Hearing Officer concludes that the owner in this instance is in a better position to conclude that the vehicle is an Average Trade-in. Furthermore, it has generally been the position, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to utilize the Average, as opposed to the Clean value, when deciding cases before the Commission.

Therefore, the range for value is narrowed to the Average Trade-in Value of $11,100 to $11,775.

Mileage Adjustment

The final factor that must be addressed is the application of a mileage adjustment. The Assessor’s office does not apply mileage adjustments or any vehicles, but opts instead to simply use the average mileage NADA determines the vehicle should show for year, make and model. This is certainly appropriate for the mass assessment of automobiles. However, once an appeal has come before the Commission, it is appropriate to look at the actual mileage that a vehicle had at the time the October NADA value is being applied.

In this case, Complainant has established that the subject vehicle had far in excess of the average mileage of 42,500 utilized by the Assessor. The high mileage must be taken into consideration when concluded the NADA Adjusted Trade-in. Complainant proposes a mileage factor as of 1/1/12 of 89,000 based on the fact that just 35 days prior to the January first valuation date the vehicle had 88,330 miles. Accordingly, the adjustment of -$1,750 for mileage to the Base Trade-In is clearly warranted.[23]

Conclusion of Value

The Hearing Officer gives equal weight to the two indicated Average Base Trade-in Values of $11,100 and $11,775 which results in a Base Trade-In Value of $11,440.[24] The Mileage Value of -$1,750 establishes the Adjusted Trade-In Value to be $9,960.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor for Lincoln County for the subject tax day is SET ASIDE.

The assessed value for the Complainant’s 2009 Toyota Corolla is set at $3,230. The total assessed value for Account Number 011000019729 is $4,560 ($3,230 – Property Appealed; $1,330 – Property Not Appealed).

Application for Review

Complainants 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.

Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. [25]

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Lincoln 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 11, 2013.



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 11th day of April, 2013, to: Michael Suddarth, 1226 Shirley Ridge Dr., St. Charles, MO, 63304, Complainant; Leah Askey, Prosecuting Attorney, P.O. Box 319, 45 Business Park Drive Troy, MO 63379, Attorney for Respondent; Kevin Bishop, Assessor, 201 Main Street, Troy, MO 63379; Rick Wilcockson, Clerk, 201 Main Street, Troy, MO 63379; Jerry Fox, Collector, 201 Main Street, Troy, MO 63379.


Barbara Heller

Legal Coordinator



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


573-751-1341 Fax


[1] Exhibits A, B & D; Exhibits 1, 3, 5 & 7


[2] Complaint for Review of Assessment, Documents attached thereto, and Exhibits A, B, C & D


[3] Exhibits 3, 4, 5 & 7


[4] Exhibit 5


[5] Exhibit B


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


[7] Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945


[8] Section 137.115.5, RSMo


[9] 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).


[10] 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).


[11] Hermel, supra.


[12] 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.


[13] Section 137.115.9 RSMo


[14] Hermel, supra.


[15] 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).


[16] See, Cupples-Hesse, supra.

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.


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


[18] Exhibit 5


[19] Exhibit A


[20] Exhibit A


[21] Exhibits 4 & 5


[22] It is noted the Assessor in Exhibit 7 refers to the “required October 2011 NADA value guide. In actuality, in the words of the statute, “The assessor . . . shall use the trade-in value . . . as the recommended guide.” Emphasis added. Hence, the guide is the recommended, not required guide.


[23] Exhibit A


[24] $11,100 + $11,775 = $22,875 ÷ 2 = $11,437.50, rounded to $11,440.


[25] Section 138.432, RSMo.