Robert & Sharon McLaughlin v. Howard (Clinton)

August 17th, 2010

State Tax Commission of Missouri






v.)Appeal Number 09-51501










On August 17, 2010, Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson entered her Decision and Order (Decision).Complainants filed their Application for Review of the Decision.[1]The Application for Review was mailed on September 17, 2010, and faxed to the Commission on September 17, 2019.An application for review must be filed within thirty days of the mailing date shown in the Certificate of Service on the Decision.[2]Thirty days after the mailing of the Decision was September 16, 2010.Complainants did not timely pursue their administrative remedy of appeal to the Commission.


The Application for Review is denied as untimely filed.

Judicial review of this Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140, RSMo within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Order.

If judicial review of this decision is made, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the courts unless disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031.8, RSMo.

If no judicial review is made within thirty days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of Clinton County, 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.

SO ORDERED October 5, 2010.


Bruce E. Davis, Chairman

Jeff W. Schaeperkoetter, Commissioner










Decision of the Clinton County Assessor is SET ASIDE.The Hearing Officer finds that the agricultural portion of the subject property is properly graded and valued.The improvements on the property are in poorer condition than estimated by the Assessor and a downward adjustment in value is warranted.A hearing was conducted on March 18 and March 26, 2010, at the Clinton County Courthouse, Plattsburg, Missouri.

Complainants appeared pro se.

Respondent appeared by Counsel, Bill Burris, Associate County Counselor.

Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson.


The Commission takes this appeal to determine the correct classification and true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2009, and January 1, 2010.


Complainants appeal, on the ground of value, misgraded agricultural land and discrimination.This appeal was taken directly from an Assessor valuation after the Clinton County Board of Equalization refused to hear Complainants’ appeal for failure to schedule an appointment.

Complainants’ Evidence

The hearing for McLaughlin Acres was combined with the hearing for Brooking Place lots and the Complainants’ residential property.The following exhibits were introduced into the hearing:[3]

Exhibit 1

McLaughlin Acres Plat

Exhibit 2

General Warranty Deed, Lot 11

Exhibit 3

’09 Real Estate Tax Receipt

Exhibit 4

Paid Tax Receipt

Exhibit 5

Summary of Tax Commission Case

Exhibit 3*

E-Mail from Randy Turley

Exhibit 4*

Bateman Decision

Exhibit 5

Reeves Decision

Exhibit 6

Summary of Tax Commission Case

Exhibit 7


Exhibit 8


Exhibit 9


Exhibit 10


Exhibit 11


Exhibit 12

’09 Tax Receipt

Exhibit 13

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 14

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 15

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 16

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 17

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 18


Exhibit 19



Tax Receipt

Exhibit 21

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 22

Tax Receipt

Exhibit 23

Appraisal Report of Mr. Downey

Exhibit 24


Exhibit 25


Exhibit 26

Repair Estimates on Residence

Exhibit 27

Plat Map

Exhibit 28

Downey appraisal report

Exhibit 29

CSR Soil GradeInformation


Only exhibits applicable to these properties were considered in determining value for the properties discussed in this decision.

Respondent’s Evidence

Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. James Downey.The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of Complainants’ residential property only.The Appraisal Report, Exhibit 28, of Mr. Downey, was received into evidence.Mr. Downey’s appraisal report will be considered in this decision.


Complainant asserted at hearing that all of his agricultural land was misgraded, but that testimony is not persuasive in light of the availability of expert soil analysis.At the Hearing Officer’s request, Respondent produced the acreage of the subject parcels and the soil grades, as contained in official records within Respondent’s possession.The Hearing Officer also requested, and was provided, a copy of the property record card for the residential/agricultural parcel identified as Appeal No. 09-51505.And, upon receipt of said information, on June 21, 2010, the Hearing Officer advised the parties of her intent to take official notice, pursuant to Section 536.070(6), RSMo of said information, unless the parties demonstrated, by surveys or expert soil analysis, that said information was incorrect.Complainants do contest acreage in the Brooking Place appeals, but no such timely contest has been made of the acreage or soil grades

for the parcel which are the subject of this decision.An untimely response was provided on

July 30, 2010, and will be briefly discussed below.


1.Complainants assert they were denied a hearing before the Clinton County Board of Equalization.No evidence was presented which would demonstrate that the Complainants could not have received a hearing if they are requested appropriately.But, in the interest of judicial economy the Tax Commission takes this appeal as part of a whole series of appeals proffered by Complainants.Complainants attempt to assert that this Hearing Officer has no jurisdiction to determine their case.[4]Although it may be true that Complainants have failed to perfect these appeals, to find lack of jurisdiction would be to require dismissal of Complainants’ appeals.This Hearing Officer declines to do so.

2.The subject parcel consists of about 117.5 acres in Clinton County, Missouri.That parcel is divided into two acres of residential property with two homes and 115.5 acres of agricultural land improved with a barn, a shed and a bin.(property record card).The property is identified as parcel number 15-02.0-03-000-000-001.000, more commonly known as 3342 S.W. W Highway, Lathrop, Missouri.

3.The residential land was valued at $7,500 per acre.Complainants presented no evidence demonstrating that is value was inaccurate.Therefore, the residential land value is found to be accurate.

4.The main home was valued by the Assessor at 44 percent good for a depreciated value of $115,090 under the cost approach.Complainants did not have an independent appraisal prepared by, rather, relied upon Mr. Downey’s appraisal which they claimed represented that the value of the primary residence of $44,000.Upon being called as a witness, Mr. Downey testified that he had calculated the “contributory” value of the primary residence at $44,000 if it was being rented.However, since it was not an income producing improvement, he calculated the market value of the primary residence at $79,559 (Tr. 257).Both the Assessor and Mr. Downey relied upon the cost approach to determine value for the primary residence.The difference in their values was in the amount of depreciation assigned to the home.Mr. Downey determined that the home was in below average to poor condition while the Assessor had determined that the home was in average condition.The Hearing Officer finds that Mr. Downey was hired by Respondent to inspect and determine value of the subject improvements.The Respondent did not contest Mr. Downey’s opinion of value, and therefore the proper value of the primary residence is $79,559.Complainants failed to demonstrate that this improvement was being rented out and, therefore, did not establish that contributory value was the proper value to use.

5.The residential portion of the subject property is also improved with an old house which is being used for rental purposes.The Assessor originally valued this improvement at $68,602.Mr. Downey asserted that the contributory value of this improvement was only $14,940.Mr. Downey also asserted that said improvement would not sell by itself.The Assessor did not dispute Mr. Downey’s opinion of value.Therefore, the Hearing Officer finds that the proper value for this improvement is $14,940.

6.The true value of the residential portion of the subject property is $109,539 ($15,000 + $79,559 + $14,940).The assessed value is $20,812.

7.The Assessor determined the following acreages and grades for the remaining parcel:



Productive Use Value













$ 3,315






Complainant suggested that he did not believe that his land was very good, but presented no evidence at hearing that would dispute the soil grades recorded on county soil maps and noted on the Property Record Card for the subject property.By order dated June 21, 2010, Complainant was given until July 21, 2010, in which to present “expert soil analysis demonstrating that the county soil maps are incorrect.”On July 30, 2010, Complainant faxed in three pages ofa “soil survey of Clinton County Missouri” produced by the USDA which stated, in part, “there are no class V . . .soils in Clinton County.”However, we note that this class description refers to “land capability classification.”The one sentence description of Grade V land in the soil survey[5] is significantly different from the description of Grade 5 land in the Code of State Regulations.[6]We cannot infer from the information presented by Respondent has incorrectly graded these 17 acres of farm land.Complainant presents no expert opinion on the correct grade.

Complainant did not present any evidence concerning the actual use of the property.The Hearing Officer finds that the Assessor correctly determined the agricultural grades and value for the agricultural portion of the subject property, i.e. $49,300. (Property Record Card).

8.Finally, the subject property has agricultural improvements valued by the Assessor at $9,100.(Property Record Card).Complainants presented no evidence tending to indicated that the agricultural improvements were overvalued.However, Mr. Downey’s report indicates that the improvements are in poor condition and only “minimally contribute” to the value of the parcel.The property record card indicates that the barn was only 9% good, or $920,and the shed was only 15% good, or $5,920.The “bin” is valued at $150.We find this to be a sufficient minimal contribution.

9.The value of the agricultural portion of this parcel is $58,400 ($49,300+ $9,100 = $58,400). The assessed value of the agricultural component is $7,010.

10.Complainants failed to present any evidence tending to show that the subject agricultural property was being treated differently than other agricultural property in the same agricultural grades.

11.No evidence was presented which suggests that any new construction orimprovements were made in the property between January 1, 2009, and January 2010.



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.[7]

Official and Judicial Notice

Agencies shall take official notice of all matters of which the courts take judicial notice.[8]

Courts will take judicial notice of their own records in the same cases.[9]In addition, courts may take judicial notice of records in earlier cases when justice requires[10] or when it is necessary for a full understanding of the instant appeal.[11] Courts may take judicial notice of their own records in prior proceedings involving the same parties and basically the same facts.[12]

Presumptions In Appeals

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.[13]

The presumption in favor of the Board is not evidence.A presumption simply accepts something as true without any substantial proof to the contrary.In an evidentiary hearing before the Commission, the valuation determined by the Board, even if simply to sustain the value made by the Assessor, is accepted as true only until and so long as there is no substantial evidence to the contrary.

The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer, or respondent when advocating a value different than that determined by the Board, 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.[14]

Agricultural Land

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.[15]Cutting hay is an agricultural activity and such activity is sufficient to cause real property to be classified as “agricultural property.”[16]

Standard for Valuation

Section 137.017.1, RSMo provides “For general property assessment purposes, the true value in money of land which is in use as agricultural and horticultural property, as defined in Section 137.016, shall be that value which such land has for agricultural or horticultural use. . .”

Land Grades

Section 137.021.1, RSMo provides “ . . . .the state tax commission shall promulgate by regulation and publish a value based on productive capability for each of the several grades of agricultural and horticultural land. . . .”

Duty to Investigate

In order to investigate appeals filed with the Commission, the Hearing Officer has the duty to inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property.The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon its inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties.[17]

Weight to be Given Evidence

The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, but is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled.The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide.[18]

Trier of Fact

The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as he may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances.The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part.[19]

Owner’s Opinion of Value

The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.[20]The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.[21]“Where the basis for a test as to the reliability of the testimony is not supported by a statement of facts on which it is based, or the basis of fact does not appear to be sufficient, the testimony should be rejected.”[22]

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.”[23]


In order to obtain a reduction in assessed value based upon discrimination, the Complainants must (1) prove the true value in money of their property on January 1, 2009; and (2) show an intentional plan of discrimination by the assessing officials resulting in an assessment of that property at a greater percentage of value than other property, generally, within the same class within the same taxing jurisdiction.[24]Evidence of value and assessments of a few properties does not prove discrimination.Substantial evidence must show that all other property in the same class, generally, is actually undervalued.[25]The difference in the assessment ratio of the subject property the average assessment ratio in the subject county must be shown to be grossly excessive.[26]No other methodology is sufficient to establish discrimination.[27]

Complainants Failed to Prove Misgraded Agricultural

Complainants have failed to met their burden of proof.As discussed in the Findings of Fact, Complainants have not made a case establishing that their agricultural land is no better than Grade 7.Official soil maps establish the appropriate use value.

Complainants Fail To Prove Discrimination

The evidence failed to demonstrate that Complainants were subjected to discrimination. In order to prevail, Complainants would need to show more favorable treatment for other landowners inasmuch as Respondent appears to have properly classified and graded the subject property.

Complainants tried to establish discrimination by presenting evidence of assessed values of other agricultural properties.Complainants took the assessed values as recorded in county records and divided those values by the number of acres in the parcel and tried to compare that number to a similar calculation for Complainants’ property.There are a number of flaws to this approach, the most significant of which is Complainants’ failure to factor in the productive use values of the subject property and the various properties they proposed to be used as comparables.Without knowing the soil grades on the various different proposed comparables, it is impossible to make any statement as to whether or not other landowners were treated better than Complainants.

Complainants Proved Overvaluation of Residential Improvements

Respondent’s appraiser testified that the residential improvements on the subject property were of a lesser condition that originally determined by Respondent.This evidence warrants a reduction in the value of the residential improvements.As discussed in the Findings of Fact, the correct value of the primary residence is $79,559.The correct value of the rental home is $14,940.There is no dispute concerning the value of the residential land.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor is SET ASIDE.The correct value for the residential portion of the subject property is $109,539 (assessed value $20,812).The correct value for the agricultural portion of the subject property is $58,400 (assessed value ($7,010).

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing date shown 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, MO65102-0146, 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 will result in summary denial. [28]

The Collector of Clinton 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.

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 August 17, 2010.


Luann Johnson, Senior Hearing Officer





[1] The document filed with the Commission was titled: Notice to Rebute the Decision and Order Finnal Order, When Nothing But Errors Are Present.Other Fact Issues Addressesed For Record and Stand as Irrefutable Facts Issues Supported by Verification of Documents Supportiing Rebutal.(sic)It is received as an Application for Review.


[2] DECISION, ORDER, p. 12; 12 CSR 30-3.080(4); Section 138.431, RSMo; Daly v. Warner-Jenkinson Mfg. Co., 92 S.W.3d 319 (Mo. App. E.D.).


[3]All may not be relevant to the determination of these appeals but all are listed so nothing will be deemed to have been erroneously excluded.


[4]July 30, 2010, fax.


[5] Class V soils are not likely to erode but have other limitations, impractical to remove, that limit their use.


[6] 12 CSR 30-4.010

(E) Grade #5. Soils are not suited to continuous cultivation. Crop rotations contain increasing proportions of small grain (for example, wheat or oats), hay, or both. Upland soils have moderate to steep slopes and require conservation practices. Limitations—


  1. Moderate to steep slopes (eight to twenty percent (8–20%));


  1. Grades #2 and #3 bottomland subject to frequent damaging flooding (more than once in two (2) years) and Grade #4 bottomland subject to occasional damaging flooding; and


3. Serious drainage problems for some soils. Use value: one hundred ninety-five dollars ($195);


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


[8] Section 536.070(6), RSMo.


[9] State ex rel. Horton v. Bourke, 129 S.W.2d 866, 869 (1939); Barth v. Kansas City Elevated Railway Company, 44 S.W. 788, 781 (1898).


[10] Burton v. Moulder, 245 S.W.2d 844, 846 (Mo. 1952); Knorp v. Thompson, 175 S.W.2d 889, 894 (1943); Bushman v. Barlow, 15 S.W.2d 329, 332 (Mo. banc 1929)


[11] State ex rel St. Louis Public Service Company v. Public Service Commission, 291 S.W.2d 95, 97 (Mo. banc 1956).


[12] In re Murphy, 732 S.W.2d 895, 902 (Mo. banc 1987); State v. Gilmore, 681 S.W.2d 934, 940 (Mo. banc 1984); State v. Keeble, 399 S.W.2d 118, 122 (Mo. 1966).


[13] 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).


[14] Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).


[15] 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.”


[16] Dickerson v. Curtis Koons, Assessor, Cass County, Mo. Appeal Number 01-49004 (June 11, 2002); Ernest W. Giddens, Trustee v. Rick Kessinger, Assessor, Greene County, MO., Appeal No. 05-33000 (Commission Decision April 19, 2007).


[17] Section 138.430.2, RSMo.


[18] St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).


[19] St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992); Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).


[20] Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970).


[21] 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).


[22] Carmel Energy at 783.


[23] See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).


[24] Koplar v. State Tax Commission, 321 S.W.2d 686, 690, 695 (Mo. 1959).


[25] State ex rel. Plantz v. State Tax Commission, 384 S.W.2d 565, 568 (Mo. 1964).


[26] Savage v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 722 S.W.2d 72, 79 (Mo. banc 1986).


[27] Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696 (Mo. 1958).


[28] Section 138.432, RSMo 2000.