State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.)Appeal No. 07-13573
PHILIP MUEHLHEAUSLER, ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization is SET ASIDE.The Commission applies the prior assessed value as requested by the Complainant to the 2007 – 08 assessment cycle.
Complainant filed Complaints for Review of Assessment based upon Sections 137.115(10) and (11), RSMo and St. Louis County Ordinance 501.250.The Respondent, upon order of the State Tax Commission, filed documents to establish their compliance with the provisions of Notice and Inspection when the assessed valuation increased by more than 15%.Respondent filed Exhibits on or about January 5, 2009.
The Commission takes these appeals to determine the true value in money to be set for the 2007 – 08 assessment cycle under the provisions of Sections 137.115 and 138.060, RSMo.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The subject property is located at 11576 Westpark Place Drive, St. Louis, Missouri63146.It is identified by its locator or parcel number 15N231054.
2. The 2006 assessed value was $637,570.
3. The 2007 assessed value as determined by the Assessor was $1,026,940.
4.The 2007 assessed valuations of the subject property increased by more than 15% since the 2006 assessment.
5.The property is residential property.
4.The property was inspected on May 24, 2007.
5.A written notice of the inspection and increase was provided on May 24, 2007.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
Complainants timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, RSMo.
Grounds for Appeal.
The properties under appeal are subclass (1) property (residential) under Section 4(b), Article X, Mo. Constitution.The Complainants stated on the Complaint for Review of Assessment that the Assessor failed to comply with Sections 137.115.10 and 137.115.11 and St. Louis County Ordinance 501.250.
Section 137.115.10, RSMo – Requirement of Physical Inspection
Section 137.115.10, RSMo 2006 Cum. Supp. (A.L. 2002 H.B. 1150, et al) establishes that: “Before the assessor may increase the assessed valuation of any parcel of subclass (1) real property by more than fifteen percent since the last assessment, excluding increases due to new construction or improvements, the assessor shall conduct a physical inspection of such property.”
Section 137.115.11, RSMo – Notice Regarding Physical Inspection
Section 137.115.11, RSMo 2006 Cum. Supp. (A.L. 2002 H.B. 1150, et al) requires in those instances where a physical inspection is required under Section 137.115.10 (more than 15% increase in residential assessed value since last assessment), the assessor is required to (1) notify the property owner in writing of the fact of the physical inspection being required, and (2) provide the owner with clear written notice of the owner’s rights relating to the physical inspection.The owner shall have no less than thirty days to notify the assessor of a request for an interior physical inspection.
Section 138.060, RSMo – Assessor’s Burden of Proof on Physical Inspection
Section 138.060, RSMo 2006 Cum. Supp. (A.L. 2002 H.B. 1150, et al) provides in relevant part, that in St. Louis County, “… in the event a physical inspection of the subject property is required by subsection 10 of Section 137.115, RSMo, the assessor shall have the burden to establish the manner in which the physical inspection was performed and shall have the burden to prove that the physical inspection was performed in accordance with Section 137.115, RSMo.….”
The Assessor inspected the property from May 24, 2007, and a notice of the inspection was provided.The notice informed the property owner that the property was inspected due to an increase of at least 15% in the assessed value.The notice also informed the property owner that they could request an additional inspection within thirty days.
The Commission finds that the notice did not comply with Section 137.115.11, RSMo in that the Complainants were not given at least thirty days to request an interior inspection.
Section 137.115.11, RSMo 2006 Cum. Supp. (A.L. 2002 H.B. 1150, et al) provides that the owner shall have no less than thirty days to notify the assessor of a request for an interior physical inspection.The purpose of the inspection is to insure the Assessor has the correct valuation in the assessment book.The Assessor’s power to change a valuation ceases after delivery of the book to the county’s governing body.Wymore v. Markway , 89 S.W.2d 9 (Mo. 1935). Section 137.375, RSMo, provides that the assessor shall make out and return to the county commission the assessment books, on or before the fifteenth day of May in every year, unless the time is extended to May 31st as provided in Section 137.335, RSMo.
The Complainant received notice of the rights related to the inspection on May 24, 2007, including a right to request an inspection and thirty days in which to exercise that right.The Assessor must turn over the assessment books, if the deadline is extended, by May 31.Therefore, the Complainants were not provided at least thirty days to request an inspection.
The Respondent failed to meet their burden that they met the requirements of Section 137.115, RSMo.The assessed valuation by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for subject property is SET ASIDE.The assessed value for the property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at the valuation proposed by the Complainant which is the 2006 assessed valuation – $637,570.
Judicial review of this Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140, RSMo within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision.
If judicial review of this decision is made, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the courts.If no judicial review is made within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Louis County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
If any or all protested taxes have been disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031(8), RSMo, Complainants may apply to the circuit court having jurisdiction of the cause for disposition of the protested taxes held by the taxing authority.
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 January 14, 2009.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Bruce E. Davis, Chairman
Jennifer Tidwell, Commissioner
Charles Nordwald, Commissioner
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 14thday of January, 2009, to:Cathy Steele, 225 S. Meramec, Suite 511, Clayton, MO 63105, Attorney for Complainants; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, Attorney for Respondent, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; Philip Muehlheausler, Assessor, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105; John Friganza, Collector, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.
Barbara Heller, Legal Coordinator