STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|THOMAS & SANDRA SCHELP,||)|
|v.||)||Appeal No.||17-49005 (03-02-04-400-000-043.004)|
|BOB HUSTON, ASSESSOR,||)|
|CASS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
The assessment made by the Board of Equalization of Cass County (BOE) is AFFIRMED. Complainants Thomas and Sandra Schelp (Complainants) did not present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the BOE.
Complainant Thomas Schelp appeared pro se.
Complainant Sandra Schelp did not appear
Bob Huston, Assessor of Cass County, Missouri (Respondent) appeared pro se.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer John Treu (Hearing Officer).
Complainants appealed on the ground of overvaluation. Respondent set a true value in money (TVM) of $322,490 ($61,273 Assessed Value). The BOE determined a TVM of $322,490 ($61,273 Assessed Value). The State Tax Commission (STC) takes these appeals to determine the TVM for the subject properties on January 1, 2017. Although not specifically plead by Complainants, during the evidentiary hearing it became apparent Complainants were attempting to prove discrimination and not overvaluation. Therefore, the STC will also examine whether there was an intentional plan by the assessing officials to assess the property under appeal at a ratio greater than 19% of TVM or at a ratio grossly excessive to the average 2017 residential assessment ratio for Cass County.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the STC.
- Evidentiary Hearing. The issue of discrimination was presented at an evidentiary hearing on November 30, 2017, at the Cass County Courthouse, Harrisonville, Missouri.
- Identification of Subject Property. The subject property is identified by parcel/locator number 03-02-04-400-000-043.004. It is further identified as 579 N. Winnebago Drive, Lake Winnebago, Missouri. (Complaint for Review of Assessment)
- Description of Subject Property. The subject property consists of a 14,985 square foot tract of land, improved by a custom built one and one-half story, single family residential home, with 2,924 square feet of living area. The home was built in 1996. Amenities include four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, one half bathroom, two fireplaces, a 3-car attached garage, a patio and a screened porch. The subject property has a second tier lake view. (Exhibit 1)
- Assessment. Respondent set the TVM for the subject property of $322,490, as of January 1, 2017, residential classification.
- Board of Equalization. The BOE determined a TVM of the subject property at $322,490, as of January 1, 2017, residential classification.
- Complainants’ Evidence. Complainants offered the following exhibits and written direct testimony, which were received without objection:
|Written Direct Testimony (WDT) of Complainants|
|A||Cass County Clerk Letter|
|B||List of Home in Lake Winnebago with Calculations|
|B-1||Information on 594 N. Winnebago Drive|
|C||Copy of Respondent’s Appraisal|
|D||Value Change Notice|
|E||List of Selling Prices of Lake Winnebago Properties|
Complainant Thomas Schelp testified that other properties in his neighborhood are assessed at a lower percentage than the subject property. He pointed to Exhibits B, B-1, and E as evidence of lack of uniformity. The calculations in such exhibits were based upon a ratio of the Assessor’s TVM divided by the sales price of each respective home. Complainant Thomas Schelp opined that Complainants’ TVM should be set at $289,315, as of January 1, 2017, to make the subject properties TVM uniform. Complainant Thomas Schelp stated that the subject property’s actual TVM is consistent with the BOE TVM. He also testified that an appraisal of the subject property in November of 2014 opined a TVM of $365,000.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent offered offered the following evidence, which were received without objection:
|1||Appraisal of Justin Williams (Williams), Certified General Real Property Appraiser|
|2||Original Property Record Card (PRC)|
|4||Spreadsheet of Subject Neighborhood|
|5||Arial Photograph of Subject Neighborhood|
|6||Subject Property Photographs- Various Angles|
Williams is a Certified General Real Property Appraiser. Williams works for The Williams Group. Williams considered all three approaches to value, but determined that only the sales comparison approach was appropriate to use. Under such approach Williams utilized three comparable sales. Williams made adjustments for age, financing, view, room count, gross living area, basement finish, energy efficiency, garage, porch/patio/deck, fencing, and pools (with subject property no having a pool). The adjusted sales prices of the three comparables ranged from $374,530 to $395,275. Williams opined a TVM of $390,000, as of January 1, 2017. Respondent testified that he was not advocating for an increase of the BOE TVM.
- Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted. Complainants’ evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the BOE and establish overvaluation. Complainants’ evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the BOE and establish an intentional plan by the assessing officials to assess the property under appeal at a ratio greater than 19% of TVM or at a ratio grossly excessive to the average 2017 residential assessment ratio for Cass County.
- Summary of TVM’s. The following table sets forth a summary of the various TVM’s:
|Complainant’s Appraisal- 11/2014||$365,000|
|Respondent’s Appraisal- 1/1/2017||$390,000|
|Complainant’s Proposed TVM (based on uniformity)||$289,315|
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The STC 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 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.
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. Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945. The constitutional mandate is to find the TVM for the property under appeal. By statute, real property and tangible personal property are assessed at set percentages of true value in money: residential property at 19%; commercial property at 32%; and agricultural property at 12%. Section 137.115.5 RSMo (2000) as amended.
Complainants appealed on the ground of overvaluation; however, during the evidentiary hearing it became clear Complainants were appealing based upon purported discrimination. In order to obtain a reduction in assessed value based upon discrimination, the Complainants must (1) prove the TVM of their property on January 1, 2017; 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 or show that the level of an assessment is so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment.
There is no evidence that there was an intentional plan of discrimination by the assessing officials so we must determine if the Complainants have presented substantial and persuasive evidence to show that the level of their assessment is so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment. “By requiring that the level of an assessment be so grossly excessive as to be inconsistent with an honest exercise of judgment in cases in which intentional discrimination is not shown, the courts and the Commission refrain from correcting assessments which reflect no more than de minimus errors of judgment on the part of assessors. Such a standard recognizes that ‘[w]hile practical uniformity is the constitutional goal, absolute uniformity is an unattainable ideal’.” Savage v. State Tax Commission, 722 S.W.2d 72 (S.Ct. 1986), Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003.)
Complainants Fail To Prove Discrimination
Complainant Thomas Schelp testified he only wanted his property to be assessed like the neighboring properties. The Hearing Officer understands this claim to essentially be an assertion of inequity in assessments. In order to obtain a reduction in assessed value based upon discrimination or inequality in assessment, a taxpayer must establish that the property being appealed is not being assessed at either the statutory ratio for property of its class or it is being assessed at a ratio of TVM greater than the average ratio for the same class of property in the county. Koplar v. State Tax Commission, 321 S.W.2d 686, 690 & 695 (Mo. 1959). Evidence of value and assessments of a few properties (in this appeal upon properties solely Lake Winnebago) does not prove discrimination.
Substantial evidence must show that all other property in the same class, generally, is actually undervalued. State ex rel. Plantz v. State Tax Commission, 384 S.W.2d 565, 568 (Mo. 1964). The difference in the assessment ratio of the subject property and the average assessment ratio in the subject county must be shown to be grossly excessive. Savage v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 722 S.W.2d 72, 79 (Mo. banc 1986). No other methodology is sufficient to establish discrimination. Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696 (Mo. 1958).
Complainants provided no evidence upon which the Hearing Officer could find that the assessment ratio on the property under appeal was grossly excessive in comparison to the average residential assessment for Cass County. There is no evidence on this record whereby the Hearing Officer can reach any conclusion as to the average assessment ratio for residential property in Cass County. Accordingly, there is no basis to find that Complainants’ property is not being assessed in the same manner as other residential property in Cass County.
Complainant Thomas Schelp admitted that the subject property’s TVM is consistent with the BOE TVM of $322,490. Furthermore, the appraisal of Williams, with an effective date of 1/1/2017, opining a TVM of $390,000 supports the BOE TVM. No further analysis by the Hearing Officer is necessary.
The assessed value for the subject property as determined by the BOE is AFFIRMED.
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, 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 application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432, RSMo.
The Collector of Cass 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 December 26th, 2017.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 26th day of December, 2017, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainants, the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.