Timothy & Debra Helbing v. Tom Ruhl, Assessor Ralls County

December 22nd, 2015

State Tax Commission of Missouri



Complainant, )
v. ) Appeal No. 15-81002
Respondent. )






Decision of the Ralls County Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.  True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2015 and 2016 is set at $41,340, residential assessed value of $7,850.

Complainants appeared in person.  Respondent appeared in person.

Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.


Complainants appeal, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the Ralls County Board of Equalization, which reduced 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, 2015.  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.  Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Ralls County Board of Equalization.  A hearing was conducted on December 11, 2015, at the Ralls County Courthouse, New London, Missouri.


  1. Assessment. The Assessor appraised the property at $74,850, a total assessed residential value of $14,220.  The Board of Equalization reduced the valuation to $41,340.
  2. Subject Property. The subject property is located at 412 Church Street, New London, Missouri.  The property is identified by map parcel number 08-1.1-01-001-23-06

The property consists of 5457 square foot tract improved by a home built in the 1920s.  It is approximately 1,322 square feet; it has 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, with a below grade area.

  1. Complainant’s Evidence.  Complainants testified on their own behalf and offered into evidence the following exhibits which were received without objection.
1 Sales Comparison Grid
2 Letter from a Realtor


Complainant Debra Helbing testified.  She is a certified residential appraiser.  She provided a sales grid listing three properties located in New London which sold in 2013 and 2015. Complainant believed all the properties were comparable.  She made adjustments for size of the lot, age of the structure, living area, heating/cooling, and garage space.  The properties sold for $45,000 to $56,500.  After adjustments the properties indicate a range of value from $38,800 to $42,000.  The Complainants also provided a letter from a realtor.  The letter was not given much weight as it is hearsay and a realtor is not to provide an opinion of value.



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.

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.  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.  In an overvaluation appeal, true value in money for the property being appealed must be determined based upon the evidence on the record that is probative on the issue of the fair market value of the property under appeal.

Presumption In Appeals

            There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.  It places the burden of going forward with substantial evidence on the taxpayer – Complainant.  The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer or Respondent when advocating a value different than the Board’s value 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.


  1. Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.


  1. 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.

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 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, 2015.  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.”  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.

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.

Exhibits and Testimony

The Complainant has the burden of establishing that the Board of Equalization was incorrect in its valuation and establish the true value of the property as of January 1.  The exhibits received on behalf of the Complainants did not provide substantial and persuasive evidence to establish a market value of $32,000.

Complainants provided sales information on properties located in New London.  Complainant is a certified residential appraiser and provided a sales comparison grid.  Complainants’ information supports the Board’s determination of value.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for Ralls County for the subject tax day is SUSTAINED.

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. [1]

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Ralls 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 22, 2015.



Maureen Monaghan

Hearing Officer


Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid this 22nd day of December, 2015, to: Complainants(s) counsel and/or Complainant, the county Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and county Collector.


Jacklyn Wood

Legal Coordinator


[1] Section 138.432, RSMo.