STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|ROBERT J. HELLMANN, JR.,||)|
|)||Appeal No. 17-112185 et al.|
|Complainant,||)||Parcel/Loc. No. (See table, below.)|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,
DECISION AND ORDER
The previous determinations of the subject properties’ true value in money (TVM) are AFFIRMED. Complainant Robert J. Hellmann, Jr., (Complainant) did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessments by the St. Louis County Board of Equalization (BOE) and of Respondent Jake Zimmerman, Assessor, St. Louis County, Missouri, (Respondent).
The evidentiary hearing in this case was scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., May 7, 2018, at the St. Louis County Government Administration Building in Clayton, Missouri. Complainant failed to appear at the evidentiary hearing and failed to prosecute the appeals. Respondent appeared by Counsel Steve Robson, who announced ready for trial. Case decided by Senior Hearing Officer Amy S. Westermann (Hearing Officer).
Complainant appealed on the ground of overvaluation. Respondent initially set the TVM of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2017, as set forth in the following table:
|Appeal No.||Parcel/locator No.||Respondent’s TVM|
The BOE found the TVM of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2017, as set forth in the following table:
|Appeal No.||Parcel/locator No.||BOE’s TVM|
On the Complaints for Review that Complainant filed with the STC, Complainant proposed the following TVM of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2017, as set forth in the following table:
|Appeal No.||Parcel/locator No.||Complainant’s Proposed TVM|
The State Tax Commission (STC) takes these appeals to determine the TVM for the subject properties as of January 1, 2017.
The Hearing Officer enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction over these appeals is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the STC.
- The subject properties are identified as set forth in the following table:
|Appeal No.||Parcel/locator No.||Address|
|17-112185||22S121240||106A Shadalane Walk|
|17-112186||22S110910||102D Shadalane Walk|
|17-112187||22S110929||102E Shadalane Walk|
|17-112188||22S110956||102H Shadalane Walk|
|17-112189||21R431237||15049 Claymore Ct. #15|
|17-112190||20N110355||12051 Gailcrest Lane|
|17-112191||24R340558||860 Sugar Hill Drive|
|17-112192||24V610705||102 Carriage View Drive|
|17-112193||23Q610800||1220H Wicklow Road|
- By Order dated December 4, 2017, (December 2017 Order) these cases were set for a Prehearing Conference on February 7, 2018, at the St. Louis County Government Administration Building, 41 South Central Avenue, in Clayton, Missouri. The December 2017 Order also provided Complainant with information about what to expect at an Evidentiary Hearing. The December 2017 Order warned Complainant that if he did not appear at the Evidentiary and no timely request for continuance were made, the appeals would be dismissed for failure to prosecute.
- On January 26, 2018, the Hearing Officer received a letter sent by facsimile from Complainant requesting a continuance of the Prehearing Conference. The same day, the Hearing Officer forwarded by email a copy of the letter to counsel for Respondent and included a courtesy copy to Complainant by email. Counsel for Respondent replied that Respondent was willing to meet with Complainant “outside of the scheduled prehearing date.”
- On January 29, 2017, the Hearing Officer issued an order informing the parties that they were free to meet on a date/time that was workable for Complainant’s and Respondent’s schedules but that they were required to engage in said meeting on or before March 30, 2018. The order further informed the parties that any appeals remaining unresolved would be heard on May 7, 2018, beginning at 1:00 p.m. The order further stated:
If a continuance of this date for evidentiary hearing is necessary, the parties shall file their request for continuance in writing no later than five days prior to the evidentiary hearing, not including Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.
- Complainant did not file any request for a continuance of the Evidentiary Hearing and did not otherwise communicate with the Hearing Officer.
- On May 7, 2018, the Evidentiary Hearing was commenced as scheduled. Complainant did not appear. Respondent appeared by counsel, who announced ready for trial. Counsel for Respondent had prepared exhibits for each of the appeals. Following a grace period for Complainant to appear, the matter was placed on the record for the entry of decision noting Complainant’s failure to appear and to prosecute the appeal and affirming the decisions of the BOE in Appeal Nos. 17-112185, 17-112186, 17-112187, 17-112188, 17-112190, 17-112191, 17-112192, 17-112193, and affirming the determination of TVM set by Respondent in Appeal No. 17-112189.
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, including the application of any abatement. The Hearing Officer shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying, or reversing the determination of the BOE 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.
Presumptions In Appeals
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). In order to prevail, a complainant must rebut the presumption of correct assessment by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence as to the proper taxation of the subject property on the tax day at issue. Hermel, 564 S.W.2d at 895; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959). There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. In an appeal before the Commission, the taxpayer still bears the burden of proof because the taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. Therefore, a complainant must prove by a preponderance of substantial and persuasive the evidence 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, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375, 379 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 648 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. W.D. 1991).
Complainant failed to appear and to prosecute the appeals and failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption that the BOE’s determinations of the TVM of the subject properties in Appeal Nos. 17-112185, 17-112186, 17-112187, 17-112188, 17-112190, 17-112191, 17-112192, 17-112193 were correct or that Respondent’s determination of TVM of the subject property in Appeal No. 17-112189 was correct. Complainant failed to communicate with the STC and failed to file any written request for a continuance at least five business days prior to the date of the Evidentiary Hearing. 12 CSR 30-3.050(6).
The BOE’s and Respondent’s determinations of TVM of the subject properties are AFFIRMED as set forth in the following table:
|Appeal No.||Parcel/locator No.||TVM as of January 1, 2017|
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 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 appeal is based may result in summary denial. Section 138.432 RSMo 2000.
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 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 2000, as amended.
Any Finding of Fact that is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed. Any Decision that is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.
SO ORDERED June 14, 2018.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Amy S. Westermann
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 14th day of June, 2018, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainants, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 According to the documentation filed by Complainant in Appeal No. 17-112189, Complainant purchased the subject property after the deadline for appeal to the BOE had passed. Therefore, the BOE made no determination with regard to the TVM of the subject property in this particular appeal. Complainant timely appealed Respondent’s TVM of this property directly to the STC.