State Tax Commission of Missouri
TERRI L. & L. WAYNE WINCHESTER,)
v.) Appeal Number 09-57017
TOM COPELAND, ASSESSOR,)
FRANKLIN COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is SUSTAINED.Complainants appeared pro se. Respondent appeared in person and by counsel Mark Vincent.Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2009.
Complainants appeals, on the ground of overvaluation and discrimination, the decision of the Franklin County Board of Equalization, which reduced the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $895,120, assessed value of $170,073, as residential property.The Board reduced the value to $890,000, assessed value of $169,100.Evidentiary Hearing was held on October 22, 2009, at the Franklin County Government Center, Union, Missouri.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.Complainants timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Franklin County Board of Equalization.
2.Complainants’ Evidence.Complainants offered into evidence Exhibits 1 and 2: MLS listings of sold properties (Exhibit 1) and Listing of Properties for Sale (Exhibit 2).Respondent objected for lack of foundation and hearsay.Objections were sustained.Both owners testified
3.Respondent’s Evidence.Respondent presented the appraisal report and testimony of Lori Ruby, Missouri State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser.Ms. Ruby gave her opinion of the fair market value of Complainants’ property as of January 1, 2009, to be $890,000 based upon a sales comparison analysis.
4.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 415 Heathermoor Court, St. Albans, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 08-1-02.0-0-013-127.000.The property consists of 1.3 acre lot improved by a one and a half story, brick single-family structure of good quality construction.The house was built in 2000 and appears to be in normal condition.The residence has a total of ten rooms, which includes four bedrooms, five and a half baths, and contains 4,469 square feet of living area.There is a full basement with 1488 square feet of finished living space and an attached three-car garage.
5.Complainants’ Evidence Did Not Establish Value.Complainants’ 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 $820,000.
6.Appraiser’s Sales Comparison Properties.The properties relied upon by Respondent’s appraiser in performing her appraisal were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value of the subject property. Each sale property sold at a time relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2009.Comparable sale #1, with an adjusted sale price of $892,400, sold in September 2008.The property was very similar to the subject except that the basement was unfinished.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.
7.Appraiser’s Adjustments and Conclusions of Value.The appraiser’s adjustments to the comparable properties for differences which existed between the subject and each comparable were appropriate for the appraisal problem.The net adjustments ranged from -6% to 7%.The adjusted sales prices calculated to $892,400, $890,000 and $775,500.The appraiser concluded on a $890,000 value which calculated to a value per square foot of $200 compared with the sales prices per square foot of living area for the comparables of $190.47, $235.53 and $162.98. The comparison of the value per square foot provides a validation check for the appraisal, to demonstrate that the indicated value is consistent with the market for properties such as the subject.
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.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization. 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 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.
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. Complainants did not present an opinion of value based on any recognized methodology for valuation of property for ad valorem tax purposes.Respondent’s appraiser concluded an opinion of value relying on the sales or market approach to value.This approach generally provides the most credible basis for appraisal of owner occupied property.
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.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.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.
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.Complainants’ opinion of value was not based upon proper elements or a proper foundation.Therefore, it does not meet the standard of substantial and persuasive evidence.Complainants failed to meet their burden of proof.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for Franklin County for the subject tax day is SUSTAINED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax year 2009 is set at $169,100.
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.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 Franklin 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 November 10, 2009.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid this 10thday of November, 2009, to:Terri Winchester, P.O. Box 101, St. Albans, MO 63073, Complainant; Mark Vincent, Franklin County Counselor, P.O. Box 439, Union, MO 63084, Attorney for Respondent; Tom Copeland, Assessor, 400 E. Locust, Suite 105A, Union, MO 63084; Debbie Door, Clerk, Franklin County Courthouse, 400 E. Locust, Suite 201, Union, MO 63084; Linda Emmons, Collector; Franklin County Courthouse, 400 E. Locust, Suite 103, Union, MO 63084.
 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 SW3d 645, 649 (Mo.App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 SW2d 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).