State Tax Commission of Missouri
ROBERT & JANET LEVINSON,)
v.) Appeal Number 10-10005
JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY,MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.True value in money for the subject property for tax year 2010 is set at $415,000, residential assessed value of $78,850.Complainant Robert Levinson appeared pro se.Respondent appeared by Associate County Counselor Paula J. Lemerman.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainants appeal, on the ground 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, 2009.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.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.A hearing was conducted on May 3, 2011, at the St. LouisCountyGovernmentCenter,Clayton,Missouri.
2.Assessment.The Assessor appraised the property at $415,000, a residential assessment of $78,850.The Board sustained the assessment.The 2009 valuation of Complainant’s property at $415,000 was not the result of a computer generated valuation.The value was the result of Complainants’ appeal in 2009 to the Board of Equalization.
3.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 17020 Kimwood Court, Chesterfield, Missouri.The property is identified by locator number 18U310270.The property consists of an 18,743 square foot lot improved with an atrium ranch brick, single-family residence built in 1990.The above grade living area is 2,725 square feet.The home has a total of six rooms, three bedrooms and two full and one half bathroom on the main floor.There is a full basement with 1,420 square feet of finish.This finished area has a recreation room, two bedrooms and a full bathroom.There are approximately $20,000 in repairs that need to be done to the home.There has been some termite damage that has been corrected.
4.Complainant’s Evidence.Mr. Levinson testified in his own behalf.He gave his opinion of value for the subject property as of January 1, 2009, to be $350,000 to $390,000. His opinion of value was based upon sales from 2009, his discussions with a real estate agent and taking into account the year 2008.Exhibits A and B – Zillow adds on properties at 1332 Chesterfield Estates Drive and 16632 Chesterfield Manor Drive were offered into evidence.Objection was made on the ground of no date of sale information and hearsay.Objections were sustained.The documents are maintained in the Commission file as an offer of proof, but not as evidence to establish true value in money on the subject property.Exhibit C – a Termite Management Agreement – was received into evidence.
Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2009, to be $350,000 to $390,000, as proposed.
5.Respondent’s Evidence.Respondent presented the appraisal report (Exhibit 1) of Sarah Curran, State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser.She concluded a value of $467,000 as the value of the subject property as of January 1, 2009.The appraiser valued the property under the sales comparison approach to value.She testified in support of her appraisal.
The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value of the subject property. The properties were located within .05 to 1.12 of a mile of the subject.Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2009.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, room, bedroom and bathroom count, living area, location, site size and other amenities of comparability. The appraiser made various adjustments to the comparable properties for differences which existed between the subject and each comparable.All adjustments were appropriate to bring the comparables in line with the subject for purposes of the appraisal problem.
Respondent also tendered into evidence Exhibit 2 (Time Adjustment Data) and Exhibit 3 (2009 – BOE Decision on Subject).The Exhibits were received into evidence.
Respondent’s evidence met the standard of substantial and persuasive to establish the value of the subject, as of January 1, 2009, to be $467,000.However, Respondent’s appraisal was accepted only to sustain the original assessment made by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for the purpose of raising the assessment above that value.See, Evidence of Increase in Value, infra.Respondent’s evidence in this appeal sustained the original valuation of $415,000.
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.
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.In an overvaluation appeal, true value in money for the property being appealed must be determined based upon the evidence on the record that is probative on the issue of the fair market value of the property under appeal.
Presumption In Appeals
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.Complainants failed to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish what the fair market value of the property should have been on January 1, 2009.
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.
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.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. Respondent presented evidence of value relying on the sales comparison approach to value.Mr. Levinson’s opinion of value was not based upon any recognized appraisal methodology.
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, 2009.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.”
Owner’s Opinion of Value
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.Mr. Levinson formulated an opinion of value of $350,000 to $390,000 based upon his general knowledge of sales during 2009, his discussions with a real estate agent and taking into account the year 2008.No evidence was presented which would allow the Hearing Officer to receive the testimony of the owner as expert testimony.The owner of the subject property cannot testify regarding comparable sales without being qualified as an expert on valuation of real estate.Mr. Levinson’s conclusion of a range of value for his property was not demonstrated to be based upon property appraisal elements or a proper appraisal foundation.His conclusion of value can be given no probative weight in this appeal.Accordingly, as addressed above, Complainant’s failed to rebut the presumption of correct assessment and have thereby failed to meet their burden of proof.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Louis County where the assessor presents evidence which indicates a valuation higher than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization, whichever is higher, for that assessment period, such evidence will only be received for the purpose of sustaining the assessor’s or board’s valuation, and not for increasing the valuation of the property under appeal.The evidence presented by the Respondent was substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the fair market value of the property under appeal, as of January 1, 2009, to be $467,000.However, under the Commission rule just cited and Supreme Court decision the assessed value cannot be increased above $78,850 (appraised value of $415,000), in this particular appeal.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2010 is set at $78,850.
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, MO65102-0146, 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.If no Application for Review is filed with the Commission within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service, the Collector, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
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 June 16, 2011.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
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 16th day of June, 2011, to:Robert Levinson, 17020 Kimwood Court, Chesterfield, MO 63005, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105, Attorney for Respondent; Jake Zimmerman,Assessor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; John Friganza, Collector, 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
 The exhibit has no probative value on the issue of true value in money per se.Respondent’s appraiser addressed in Exhibit 1 that there had been a termite issue.The exhibit was verification on that matter.
 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.
 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).
 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).
 Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).
“Section 138.060 prohibits an assessor from advocating for or presenting evidence advocating for a higher ‘valuation’ than the ‘value’ finally determined by the assessor. … . Because the legislature uses the singular terms ‘valuation’ and ‘value’ in the statute, however, it clearly was not referring to both true market value and assessed value.While the assessor establishes both true market value and assessed value, which are necessary components of a taxpayer’s assessment, as noted previously, the assessed value is the figure that is multiplied against the actual tax rate to determine the amount of tax a property owner is required to pay.The assessed value is the ‘value that is finally determined’ by the assessor for the assessment period and is the value that limits the assessor’s advocacy and evidence.Section 138.060.By restricting the assessor from advocating for a higher assessed valuation than that finally determined by the assessor for the relevant assessment period, the legislature prevents an assessor from putting a taxpayer at risk of being penalized with a higher assessment for challenging an assessor’s prior determination of the value of the taxpayer’s property.”State ex rel. Ashby Road Partners, LLC et al v. STC and Muehlheausler, 297 S.W.3d 80, 87-88 (Mo 8/4/09)