State Tax Commission of Missouri
|PARK 370 DEVELOPMENT,||)|
|v.||)||Appeal No. 13-13524|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED. Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization.
Complainant appeared by counsel Jason Rush.
Respondent appeared by counsel Ed Corrigan.
Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of misclassification, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which sustained the classification of the subject property. The Commission takes this appeal to determine classification for the subject property on January 1, 2013.
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. The parties were to request an Evidentiary Hearing by February 5, 2016. Neither party requested a hearing and the appeal was taken under advisement on Exhibits.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by map parcel number 09M430161. It is further identified as 4872 Park 370, St. Louis County, Missouri.
- Assessment. The Assessor appraised the property at $5789,500, commercial assessed value of $252,640. The Board of Equalization sustained the value and classification.
- Complainant’s Evidence. The Complainant submitted four exhibits. The Hearing Officer lettered the exhibits and describes them as follows:
Exhibit A – Section 137.016 RSMo.
Exhibit B – Farming Agreements dated June 2012 to June 2015. St Louis County Assessor’s Real Estate information for 2013-2014 on the subject parcels confirming the acreage.
Exhibit C – State Tax Commission approval of stipulations for 2010-2012.
Exhibit D – Written Direct Testimony of Mitchell Wexler. He is the manager of Park 370 Development. He testified that the he and the county stipulated for 2010, 2011 and 2012 to classify the property as agricultural.
- No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement. There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2014; therefore, the assessed value for 2013 remains the assessed value for 2014. Section 137.115.1, RSMo.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted the Board of Equalization’s Decision setting forth a true value of the property as of January 1, 2013
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted. Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.
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.
Issuance of Decision Absent Evidentiary Hearing
The Hearing Officer, after affording the parties reasonable opportunity for fair hearing, shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying or reversing the determination of the Board of Equalization, correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious. Section 138.431.5 RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.080 (2) The filing of exhibits and written direct testimony establishes the basis upon which opportunity for an evidentiary hearing can be held. The Complainant has the burden to present substantial and persuasive evidence. Since neither party requested a hearing, the Hearing Officer simply considered the exhibits filed and then proceeded to ascertain if said exhibits met the standard of substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the market value of the property.
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, 2013. 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).
Under Missouri statutory law, property shall be classified as agricultural and horticultural property when “real property [is] used for agricultural purposes and devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops . . .” Section 137.016.1(2) RSMo. The classification is determined by the actual use put to the property. Northtown Village v. Don Davis, Assessor, Jasper County. Mo., Appeal Nos. 03-62558 (May 27, 2004)[ providing that the definitions in Section 137.016 (2000) illustrate that “the classification turns on the actual use put to the property.]
If the property is determined to be used for agricultural purposes, the value placed upon the property will be its productivity value. Productivity values for each grade of agricultural property are determined by the State Tax Commission and set forth in Code of State Regulations.
The grade of the property is determined by the assessor. The assessor, in grading property, considers soil surveys, decreases in land valuation due to natural disasters, level of flood protection, governmental regulations limiting the use of such land, the estate held in such land, and other relevant information.
Complainant Failed to Meet Their Burden of Proof
Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence. Complainant presented information regarding the use of the property. However, even if the information presented regarding the use of the property is deemed substantial and persuasive, Complainant did not present information regarding the grade of the property. Complainant did not present any mapping by the County, soil surveys, decreases in land valuation due to natural disasters, level of flood protection, governmental regulations limiting the use of such land, the estate held in such land, or other relevant information.
Without evidence as to both the use of the property and the proper grade of the property, the appropriate assessed value cannot be established.
Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to establish the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious” or establish a value indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2013. A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “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).
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and modified by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
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 19th day of April 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 19th day of April, 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