STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|Shaung Lee Chang,||)|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Shaung Lee Chang (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Board of Equalization’s (BOE) decision finding the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $499,900. Complainant claims the property is overvalued and did not propose a new value. Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence establishing overvaluation. The BOE’s decision is affirmed. The parties waived their opportunity for an evidentiary hearing and agreed to submit the appeals on the record.²
Complainant appeared pro se. Respondent was represented by counsel Monique McNutt.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Subject Property. The subject property is located at 311 Sunway Lane in Creve Coeur, Missouri. The parcel/locator number is 18Q320312.
The subject property consists of approximately one and one quarter acre lot and a 3,168 square foot single family home. The home has five bedrooms and three and one half bathrooms. Complainant purchased the subject property in 1990 for $332,000.
- Respondent and BOE. Respondent classified the subject property as residential and determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $564,700. The BOE classified the subject property as residential and independently determined the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $499,900.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant did not submit any evidence.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent submitted Exhibits 1, 2, 3A, 3B, 4 and the written direct testimony (WDT) of Respondent’s staff appraiser Sharon Keulker, which are admitted into the record. Exhibit 1 indicates that Ms. Keulker has about 20 years of experience in appraising residential property. Exhibit 4 is the BOE decision concluding the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $499,900. Exhibits 2, 3A and 3B include a comparative sales analysis report, photos of the subject property, a map of the properties and a list of the comparable properties used. In Exhibit 2, Ms. Keulker utilized the sales comparison approach to estimate the January 1, 2019, market value of the subject property. Ms. Keulker concludes in the report that the TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019, should be $499,900 in correspond with the BOE’s decision. Exhibits 2, 3A and 3B utilize the sales comparison approach to estimate the market value of the subject property from recent sales of five comparable properties. Ms. Keulker utilized five similar properties located within one mile of the subject property all within the Parkway School District. Ms. Keulker developed a value range based on condition and recent sales for comparison with the subject property. The comparable properties are similar to the subject property with respect to location, style, size, square footage and age. The comparable properties differ from the subject property with respect to condition.
The key property data in those Exhibits are as follows:
|122 Babler Rd||288 Babler Rd||348 Pebble Acres Dr||13223 Pebble Ridge Dr||336 Babler Rd|
|Bathrooms||2 full 2 half||4.5||3.5||3.5||3.5||2 full 2 half|
|Adjusted Sale Price||$499,900||$420,600||$561,900||$631,700||$5881,900||$569,100|
- Value. The TVM of the subject property on January 1, 2019 was $499,900.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation
Pursuant to Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 real property and tangible personal property is 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. Residential real property is assessed at 19% of its TVM as of January 1 of each odd-numbered year. Section 137.115.5(1)(a). “True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005) (internal quotation omitted). The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.” Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). Determining the TVM is a factual issue for the STC. Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). The “proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 75 (Mo. banc 1986).
“For purposes of levying property taxes, the value of real property is typically determined using one or more of three generally accepted approaches.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The three generally accepted approaches are the cost approach, the income approach, and the comparable sales approach. Id. at 346-48; see also St. Louis Cty. v. Sec. Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977).
The comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348. For this reason, the comparable sales approach is typically used to value residential property. “The comparable sales approach uses prices paid for similar properties in arms-length transactions and adjusts those prices to account for differences between the properties.” Id. at 347-48 (internal quotation omitted). “Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.” Id. at 348.
The hearing officer is the finder of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). The finder of fact in an administrative hearing determines the credibility and weight of expert testimony. Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2012). “It is within the purview of the hearing officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020). The hearing officer “may 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.” Section 138.430.2. The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon his inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties. Id.
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof
The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Rinehart v. Laclede Gas Co., 607 S.W.3d 220, 227 (Mo. App. W.D. 2020). To prove overvaluation, a taxpayer must rebut the BOE’s presumptively correct valuation and prove the “value that should have been placed on the property.” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. The taxpayer’s evidence must be both “substantial and persuasive.” Id. “Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Savage, 722 S.W.2d at 77 (internal quotation omitted). Evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); see also White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010) (noting the burden of persuasion is the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”). A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the STC “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).
- Complainant Did Not Prove Overvaluation.
Complainant did not submit any evidence to support a claim of overvaluation.
Respondent submitted substantial and persuasive evidence that the TVM on January 1, 2019, was $499,900. Exhibit 2 utilizes the comparable sales approach to estimate that the value of the subject property on January 1, 2019, was $499,900. (See Exhibit 2). Exhibit 2 demonstrates there is an active market for similar single-family homes in the subject property’s neighborhood and there is sufficient data to make a comparative analysis. See Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 348 (noting the comparable sales approach “is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data are available to make a comparative analysis”). Ms. Keulker credibly testified in the WDT that the comparable sales approach was the best valuation approach for the subject property. The comparable sales approach utilized in Exhibit(s) 2, 3A and 3B is an appropriate valuation method and constitutes substantial and persuasive evidence to value the subject property at $499,900. See Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 341, 347.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The BOE decision is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2019, was $499,900.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within 30 days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application “shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.” Section 138.432. The application must be in writing, and may be mailed to the State Tax Commission, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to Legal@stc.mo.gov. A copy of the application must be sent to each person 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.
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.
SO ORDERED June 4, 2021.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Erica M Gage
Senior Hearing Officer
State Tax Commission
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on June 4, 2021, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
 Complainant timely filed a complaint for review of assessment. The State Tax Commission (STC) has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal. Mo. Const. art. X, Section 14; section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000. All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.
² Section 138.431.5 provides 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 BOE, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.”