Thomas & Sherrel Walker v. Gray (Christian)

March 5th, 2014

State Tax Commission of Missouri
















Appeal No.13-50500



















Decision of the Christian County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Complainants failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board of Equalization.

True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2013 and 2014 is set at $39,000, residential assessed value of $7,410.

Complainants represented pro se.

Respondent represented by John Housley, Christian County Counselor.

Case decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.


Complainants appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Christian 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, 2013.[1] The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


1.Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainants timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Christian County Board of Equalization.

2.Submission on Exhibits.By Bench Order, dated 12/18/13, evidentiary hearing was cancelled and the case was submitted on the exhibits filed.

3.Identification of Subject Property.The subject property is identified by map parcel number 21-0.7-36-004-003-001.000.It is further identified as 200 Mark Twain Dr., Saddlebrooke, Missouri.[2]

4.Description of Subject Property.The subject property consists of an unimproved 188.5 foot by 150.4 foot residential lot.[3]

5.Assessment.The Assessor appraised the property at $39,000, an assessed residential value of $7,410.The Board of Equalization sustained the assessment.[4]

6.Complainants’ Evidence.The following exhibits were received into evidence on behalf of Complainants:




Christian County Board of Equalization Minutes – 7/11/13 (2 pages)


Letter dated 3/14/13: Thomas E. Walker to Julia Maples, RE: BOE Hearing; BOE Appeal Form, dated 3/14/13 (2 pages)


Letter dated 11/13/13: Thomas E. Walker to Christian County BOE (1 page)


Letter dated 11/26/12: W. B. Tichenor to Complainants – Denial of 2012 appeal, Complaint for Review of Assessment – dated 11/20/12 (2 pages)


Letter dated 12/5/12: Thomas E. Walker to W. B. Tichenor – STC (1 page)


Email dated 2/5/13: David Stokely, Assessor to Thomas Walker (3 pages)


Email dated 2/6/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/7/13: Stokely to Walker, attached letter (2 pages)


Email dated 2/7/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/7/13: Stokely to Walker (1 page)


Email dated 2/7/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/8/13: Stokely to Walker (1 page)


Multiple Listing Service Property List dated 3/2/12 (1 page)


CMA Listings dated 2/8/13 (1 page)


Email dated 2/8/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/8/13: Stokely to Walker (1 page)


Email dated 2/11/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/15/13: Maples to Walker, attached letter (2 pages)


Letter dated 11/13/12: Walker to Christian County BOE (1 page)


2012 Real Estate Tax Bill – subject property (2 pages)


Email dated 2/16/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/19/13: Walker to Maples (1 page)


Email dated 2/20/13: Maples to Walker (2 pages)


Email dated 2/20/13: Stokely to Walker & BOE (1 page)


Email dated 2/20/13: Maples to Walker (1 page)


Email dated 2/20/13: Walker to Maples (1 page)


Email dated 2/21/13: Walker to Stokely (1 page)


Email dated 2/22/13: Maples to Walker (1 page)


Email dated 2/22/13: Stokely to Walker (1 page)


Sales Letter dated 7/6/06 – subject property (1 page)


Email dated 2/25/13 (1 page)


Email Thread dated 2/26/13: Stokely, Walker & Karen Best (1 page)


MultiList Data Sheet dated 3/4/13 – 22 Appaloosa Trail (3 pages)


MultiList Data Sheet dated 3/4/13 – 57 Mark Twain Dr (2 pages)


MultiList Data Sheet dated 3/4/13 – 113 Seven Pines Dr (2 pages)


MultiList Data Sheet dated 3/4/13 – 652 Meadowview Ln (2 pages)


Letter dated 11/8/13: Walker to Tichenor (2 pages) taken as Complainants’ Statement of Basis of Value.

7.No Evidence of New Construction & Improvement.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2014; therefore, the assessed value for 2013 remains the assessed value for 2014.[5]

8.Presumption of Correct Assessment Not Rebutted.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, 2013.See, Presumption In Appeal and Complainants Fail To Prove Value, infra.

9.Respondent’s Evidence.The following exhibits were received into evidence on behalf of Respondent:




Property Record Card on Subject Property


Proposed Agreement – Assessor & Saddlebrooke Owners


List of Saddlebrooke Lots Sold – 2011 – 2013


Christian County Land Study Report

 Respondent had no burden of proof in the appeal.No analysis of Respondent’s exhibits is necessary given that Complainants failed to meet their burden of proof.



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.[6]

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.[7]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.[8] 

Presumption In Appeal

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.[9]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 is not evidence of value.

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.[10]

Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[11]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.[12]

Complainants’ evidence failed to meet the standard of substantial and persuasive.It was not sufficient to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.See, Complainants Fail To Prove Value, infra.

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.[13]True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use.[14]It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.[15]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. 

6.The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction.[16] 

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.[17]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.[18]Complainants presented no evidence of a valuation of the property under appeal as of 1/1/13 under any recognized and accepted appraisal methodology.

Complainants Fail To Prove Value

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, 2013.[19]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.”[20]A valuation which does not reflect the fair market value (true value in money) of the property under appeal is an unlawful, unfair and improper assessment.

The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.[21]The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.[22]The Complaint for Review of Assessment offers an opinion of value for the Complainants’ lot of $19,000.However, none of the documentation submitted by Complainants provides any basis upon which it can be concluded that as of 1/1/13 that would represent the fair market value of the property under appeal.

The Hearing Officer has reviewed all of the Exhibits tendered by Complainants.He has found that none of them provide any basis for a valuation of the subject property relying upon any established appraisal methodology.The only exhibits that remotely provide any “valuation” evidence are Exhibits M, N, GG, HH, II & JJ.The other exhibits are totally devoid of any evidence on the issue of what a willing buyer and seller would have agreed to as the value of the subject property as of 1/1/13.

The critical flaw in Complainants’ case is that the very limited information in Exhibits M, N, GG, HH, II & JJ were not utilized to arrive at a conclusion of value employing sound appraisal methodology.Apparently, Complainants were under the mistaken belief that by presented this very generic real estate information that the Hearing Officer would then “value” or “appraise” the property.The Hearing Officer is not an appraiser.The Hearing Officer is the trier of fact.That is, he is to hear and weight relevant evidence to arrive at a determination of value.That exercise does not constitute appraising of property.The Hearing Officer must rely upon those who by education, training, and experience have developed expertise in the appraisal of real estate.For the Hearing Officer to assume the role of an appraiser in this appeal utilizing the exhibits submitted by Complainants, would mean that he then would become an “appraiser” for one party.That is not his role.

Complainants failed to present an opinion of value that rested upon sound appraisal practice.In point of fact, the Hearing Officer has no idea as to exactly how the value of $19,000 set for on the Complaint form was derived.The evidentiary record is silent on that point.In other words, the Complainants’ opinion of value has not been shown to have been based upon proper elements or a proper foundation.Therefore, no probative weight can be accorded the owner’s opinion of value.The presumption of correct assessment by the Board is unrebutted and accordingly must be affirmed.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for Christian County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.

The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2013 and 2014 is set at $7,410.

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. [23]

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Christian 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 March 5, 2014.


W. B. Tichenor

Senior Hearing Officer


[1] The value as of 1/1/13 remains the value as of 1/1/15 unless there is new construction and improvement to the property.Section 137.115.1 RSMo 

[2] Complaint for Review of Assessment; Exhibit 1. 

[3] Exhibit 1 

[4] Exhibit 1; BOE Decision Letter attached to Complaint for Review of Assessment. 

[5] Section 137.115.1, RSMo 

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

[7] Article X, Sections 4(a) and 4(b), Mo. Const. of 1945 

[8] Section 137.115.5, RSMo – residential property at 19% of true value in money; commercial property at 32% of true value in money and agricultural property at 12% of true value in money 

[9] 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) 

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

[11] See, Cupples-Hesse, supra.

Substantial and persuasive evidence is not an extremely high standard of evidentiary proof.It is the lowest of the three standards for evidence (substantial & persuasive, clear and convincing, and beyond a reasonable doubt).It requires a small amount of evidence to cross the threshold to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board.The definitions, relevant to substantial evidence, do not support a position that substantial and persuasive evidence is an extremely or very high standard.

“Substantial evidence: Evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion; evidence beyond a scintilla.”Black’s Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition, p. 580

The word scintilla is defined as “1. a spark,2. a particle; the least trace.” Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition.Black’s definition at 1347 is “A spark or trace <the standard is that there must be more than a scintilla of evidence>.”There must be more than a spark or trace for evidence to have attained the standard of substantial.Once there is something more than a spark or trace the evidence has reached the level of substantial.Substantial evidence and the term preponderance of the evidence are essentially the same.“Preponderance of the evidence. The greater weight of the evidence; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other.”Black’s at 1201Substantial evidence is that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support the conclusion.Preponderance is sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other, i.e. support the proposed conclusion. 

[12] Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975) 

[13] St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993) 

[14] 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) 

[15] Hermel, supra 

[16] 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. 

[17] See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra;Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975). 

[18] 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). 

[19] Hermel, supra 

[20] 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) 

[21] 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) 

[22] 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). 

[23] Section 138.432, RSMo