Wyneta Fishback v. Anthony Daniel, Assessor, Clark County

July 2nd, 2020

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

WYNETA FISHBACK, )    
               Complainant, )    
  ) Appeal No. 19-51001
v. )   19-51002
  )    
ANTHONY DANIEL, ASSESSOR, )    
CLARK COUNTY, MISSOURI, )    
                 Respondent. )    

 

DECISION AND ORDER AFFIRMING

HEARING OFFICER DECISION UPON APPLICATION FOR REVIEW

HOLDING

On December 24, 2019, Senior Hearing Officer John Treu (Hearing Officer) entered a Decision and Order (Decision) affirming the decision of the Board of Equalization of Clark County (BOE). Wyneta Fishback (Complainant) subsequently filed an Application for Review of the Decision and Order of the Hearing Officer.

We AFFIRM the Decision and Order of the Hearing Officer. Segments of the Hearing Officer’s Decision and Order may have been incorporated into our Decision and Order without further reference.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

            The subject properties are identified by Parcel Locator No. 01-11-06-24-01-18-002.00 (Appeal No. 19-51001) and by Parcel Locator No. 01-11-06-24-01-18-004.00 (Appeal No. 19-51002). The parcels are further identified as being located at 428 and 470 West Clark Street, Kahoka, Missouri. The subject properties consist of residential parcels of real property situated within the city of Kahoka, Missouri.

Anthony Daniel, Assessor of Clark County (Respondent) assessed the parcel in Appeal No. 19-51001 at $12,750 and assessed the parcel in Appeal No. 19-51002 at $3,310. Complainant appealed to the BOE, which affirmed Respondent’s assessed valuations. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission (STC) alleging that the subject properties suffer from erroneous mapping and are misclassified.

The Hearing Officer held an evidentiary hearing on December 10, 2019, at the Clark County Courthouse, Kahoka, Missouri. Complainant presented evidence and exhibits; Respondent presented no exhibits. The Hearing Officer issued his Decision and Order on December 24, 2019, affirming the BOE on the ground that Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence establishing that the subject properties suffer from erroneous mapping and are misclassified as alleged.

Complainant timely filed an application for review. The STC thereafter issued its Order allowing the Application for Review and granting Respondent time to file a response. Respondent did not file a response.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Complainant’s Points on Review

            Complainant alleged the Hearing Officer erred by:

  1. finding that Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that Respondent used improper mapping to value the subject properties; and
  2. failing to find that the subject properties should be classified as agricultural rather than residential.

STC’s Ruling

            For the reasons that follow, the STC finds Complainant’s arguments to be unpersuasive. The STC, having thoroughly reviewed the whole record and having considered the Hearing Officer’s Decision, and the Application for Review of Complainant, affirms the Hearing Officer’s decision.

Standard of Review

A party subject to a Decision and Order of a Hearing Officer of the STC may file an application requesting the case to be reviewed by the STC. Section 138.432. The STC may then summarily allow or deny the request. Id. The STC may affirm, modify, reverse, set aside, deny, or remand to the Hearing Officer the Decision and Order of the Hearing Officer on the basis of the evidence previously submitted or based on additional evidence taken before the STC. Id.  

Presumption In Appeals

            There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the BOE. 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). This presumption is a rebuttable rather than a conclusive presumption. The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the BOE’s valuation is erroneous and what fair market value should have been placed on the property. Id.

Complainant’s Burden of Proof

The taxpayer in a STC appeal bears the burden of proof. The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. Therefore, Complainant bears the burden of proving by substantial and persuasive evidence the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.”   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. W.D. 1991). Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959). Persuasive evidence is evidence that has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact. Cupples Hesse Corp., 329 S.W.2d at 702. The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief. Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).

Weight to be Given Evidence

The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule, or method in determining true value in money and is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled. The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide. St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).

Improper Mapping

Complainant argues that she presented evidence of “a substantial and long history of improper mapping and fraud . . . ” that affected the value of the subject properties. (Application for Review) The Hearing Officer found that Complainant presented no evidence of the impact the alleged “improper mapping and fraud” on the value of the subject properties. The record supports the Hearing Officer’s finding. To the extent Complainant’s allegations involve a dispute as to ownership, neither the assessor nor the STC resolve ownership disputes. Further, Missouri courts have stated that the assessor is not a skilled title examiner, and assessors are not held to such standard. See Dorman v. Minnich, 336 S.W.2d 500, 507 (Mo. 1960); see also Monty & Debbie McLallen, Complainants, v. Laura Pope, Assessor, McDonald County, Missouri, Respondent (State Tax Commission) May 23, 2011.

Classification

Respondent classified the subject property as residential.  Complainant argued the property is rural and, therefore, the property should be classified as agricultural. Section 137.016 defines the classification of real property in Missouri as either residential, agricultural, or commercial.  Section 137.016 defines agricultural property as:

“Agricultural and horticultural property”, all real property used for agricultural purposes and devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops; to the feeding, breeding and management of livestock which shall include breeding, showing, and boarding of horses; to dairying, or to any other combination thereof; and buildings and structures customarily associated with farming, agricultural, and horticultural uses.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall also include land devoted to and qualifying for payments or other compensation under a soil conservation or agricultural assistance program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall further include land and improvements, exclusive of structures, on privately owned airports that qualify as reliever airports under the National Plan of Integrated Airports System, to receive federal airport improvement project funds through the Federal Aviation Administration.  Real property classified as forest croplands shall not be agricultural or horticultural property so long as it is classified as forest croplands and shall be taxed in accordance with the laws enacted to implement Section 7 of Article X of the Missouri Constitution.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall also include any sawmill or planing mill defined in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual under Industry Group 242 with the SIC number 2421;

Complainant presented no evidence that the subject properties were used for agricultural purposes and were devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops; to the feeding, breeding and management of livestock or to any other combination thereof.

Discussion

            The taxpayer in a STC appeal bears the burden of proof. The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief. Therefore, in these appeals, the Complainant had the burden of proving that the BOE’s valuation was erroneous and of establishing what should be the fair market value of the properties and of proving the BOE’s classification was erroneous and of establishing what should be the proper classification. However, our review of the record as a whole reveals that Complainant did not present any evidence establishing the true value of the subject properties as of January 1, 2019, or that the subject properties had any agricultural use. The Hearing Officer did not err in affirming the decision of the BOE.

ORDER

The Decision of the Hearing Officer is AFFIRMED. The Decision and Order of the Hearing Officer, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law therein, is incorporated by reference, as if set out in full, in this final Decision and Order of the STC.

Judicial review of this Decision and Order may be had in the manner provided in Sections 138.432 and 536.100 to 536.140 within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision and Order. If judicial review of this Decision and Order 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 unless disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031.8.

If no judicial review is made within thirty days, this Decision and Order is deemed final and the Collector of the affected 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.

 

SO ORDERED this 2nd day of July, 2020

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

__________________________________

Gary Romine, Chairman

 

 

__________________________________

Victor Callahan, Commissioner

 

__________________________________

Will Kraus, Commissioner

 

 

 

Certificate of Service

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been sent electronically or mailed postage prepaid July 2, 2020, to:

 

Complainant Wyneta Fishback, 428 West Clark Street, Kahoka, MO 63445, bluezebra1935@gmail.com

Anthony Daniel, clarkcoassessor@gmail.com

Collector, clarkcountycollector@gmail.com

Clerk, clark@sos.mo.gov

 

Legal Coordinator

 

 

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

 

WYNETA FISHBACK ) Appeal No. 19-51001 & 19-51002
  ) 1-11-06-24-01-18-002.00 &
               Complainant, ) 1-11-06-24-01-18-004.00
  )  
v. )  
  )  
ANTHONY DANIEL, ASSESSOR )  
CLARK COUNTY, MISSOURI )  
  )  
             Respondent. )  

 

DECISION AND ORDER

Wyneta Fishback (Complainant) appeals the determination of the Clark County Board of Equalization (BOE) that the assessed value of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2019, were $3,310 and $12,750 respectively, based upon a residential classification. Anthony Daniel (Respondent), Assessor of Clark County, Missouri, determined the assessed value of the subject properties were $3,310 and $12,750 respectively, based upon a residential classification, as of January 1, 2019. Complainant claims the entire city of Kahoka, Missouri is improperly mapped and that the classification of her property is incorrect.

The hearing officer conducted an evidentiary hearing. Complainant did not present substantial and persuasive evidence establishing the true value in money of the subject property and did not present substantial and persuasive evidence of an agricultural use or other used, other than residential. The determination of the BOE is affirmed.

FINDINGS OF FACT

A. The Subject Property

 

  1. The subject residential property is located at 428 and 470 W. Clark Street, Kahoka, Missouri, respectively. The parcel number are 1-11-06-24-01-18-002.00 and 1-11-06-24-01-18-004.00 respectively.
  2. Complainant offered no evidence regarding the particulars of the parcels other than evidence that a residential houses sit on the parcels and that the parcels are within the city of Kahoka, Missouri.

B. The BOE Decision

3. The BOE sustained Respondent’s assessments.

C. Complainant’s Appeal

4. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission (Commission).

5. Complainant alleged the subject properties suffers from erroneous mapping and misclassification.

D. Improper Mapping and Misclassification Claims

6. Complainant submitted exhibits A through P and W.   Each exhibit was admitted into evidence to be given such weight as the Hearing Officer deems appropriate. Complainant’s exhibits were as follows:

Exhibit A Survey Showing Location of Subject Property Within Survey of Kahoka, Missouri
Exhibit B Newspaper Article
Exhibit C Newspaper Article
Exhibit D Newspaper Article
Exhibit E Ordinance
Exhibit F Tennessee Addition Survey
Exhibit G Kahoka Athletic Park Drawing
Exhibit H Survey
Exhibit I MODOT Letter
Exhibit J Newspaper Article
Exhibit K Certificate of Record of Survey
Exhibit L Certificate of Record of Survey
Exhibit M Warranty Deed, Page 1
Exhibit N Warranty Deed, Page 2
Exhibit O Warranty Deed, Page 1
Exhibit P Warranty Deed, Page 2
Exhibit W Tax Bill and Paper Showing Job Tile of Gene Daniel

7. Complainant’s daughter, Kristy Fishback, testified extensively regarding the surveying and mapping of Kahoka, Missouri in appeal 19-51000. Such testimony was adopted into the evidentiary record of these appeals.

8. Complainant presented no evidence of any agricultural use or reasoning for agricultural classification of the subject property and presented no evidence of the impact on the true value in money of the subject property due to any purported mapping or surveying issues.

9. Respondent submitted no exhibits.

E. Value

10. The assessed value of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2019, are $3,310 and $12,750 respectively.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

  1. Authority

The Commission has authority, “under such rules as may be prescribed by law, to hear appeals from local boards in individual cases and, upon such appeal, to correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.” Mo. Const. art. X, § 14. Section 138.430.1, RSMo 2000, authorizes the Commission to hear appeals concerning assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment.[1] “The commission shall investigate all such appeals and shall correct any assessment or valuation which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Id. “To hear and decide appeals pursuant to section 138.430, the commission shall appoint one or more hearing officers.” Section 138.431.1. 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.” Section 138.431.5.

  1. True Value in Money

All real property and tangible personal property must be assessed at its value or a percentage of its value as fixed by law for each class and for each subclass.  Mo. Const. art. X, sec. 4(a), 4(b). Section 137.115.5(1) (a) provides residential property is assessed at 19% of its true value in money. The true value in money “is an estimate of the fair market value on the valuation date.” Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Comm’n, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978). The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.” Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). Determining the true value in money is a factual issue. Parker v. Doe Run Co., 553 S.W.3d 356, 360 (Mo. App. 2018).

  1. Evidentiary Standards

The hearing officer is the trier of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Citizens for Rural Pres., Inc. v. Robinett, 648 S.W.2d 117, 132 (Mo. App. 1982); see also Exch. Bank of Mo. v. Gerlt, 367 S.W.3d 132, 136 (Mo. App. 2012) (the trier of fact determines credibility and is free to disbelieve all or part of a party’s evidence). The hearing officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, and “is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled to.” St. Louis Cty. v. State Tax Comm’n, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); see also Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. 2015) (the relative weight of any relevant factor is for the administrative hearing officer to decide). “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977).

  1. Complainant’s Burden of Proof

A taxpayer challenging the assessment, valuation, the method or formula used in determining valuation, or the assignment of a discriminatory assessment bears the burden of proving the assessment or valuation was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”  Section 138.430.1; Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003).

Substantial evidence is evidence which “has probative force upon the issues . . . and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.”  Cupples Hesse, 329 S.W.2d at 702 (internal quotation omitted). To prevail, the taxpayer must produce “persuasive” evidence sufficient to convince the trier the disputed fact has been established. White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010); see also Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002) (evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact”).

  1. Improper Mapping

Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence to establish the market impact on the true value in money of the subject property, of any purported improper mapping. The State Tax Commission lacks authority to correct any purported improper mapping, but it limited to remedying any impact of any such issue upon the true value in money of the subject property. Complainant did not meet her burden of proof.

  1. Classification

The Respondent classified the subject property as residential.  The Complainant states the property is rural and therefore believes the property should be classified as agricultural. Nevertheless, Complainant do not contend that the property is utilized for any agricultural activity.

Section 137.016, RSMo defines the classification of real property in Missouri—residential, agricultural, or commercial.  Section 137.016 RSMo defines agricultural property as:

“Agricultural and horticultural property”, all real property used for agricultural purposes and devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops; to the feeding, breeding and management of livestock which shall include breeding, showing, and boarding of horses; to dairying, or to any other combination thereof; and buildings and structures customarily associated with farming, agricultural, and horticultural uses.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall also include land devoted to and qualifying for payments or other compensation under a soil conservation or agricultural assistance program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall further include land and improvements, exclusive of structures, on privately owned airports that qualify as reliever airports under the National Plan of Integrated Airports System, to receive federal airport improvement project funds through the Federal Aviation Administration.  Real property classified as forest croplands shall not be agricultural or horticultural property so long as it is classified as forest croplands and shall be taxed in accordance with the laws enacted to implement Section 7 of Article X of the Missouri Constitution.  Agricultural and horticultural property shall also include any sawmill or planing mill defined in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual under Industry Group 242 with the SIC number 2421;

 

The Complainant has the burden of establishing through substantial and persuasive evidence the property was devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops or the feeding, breeding and management of livestock.  Complainant presented no evidence to support her burden of proof.

CONCLUSION AND ORDER

The determination of the BOE is affirmed. The assessed value in money of the subject properties, as of January 1, 2019, are $3,310 and $12,750 respectively.

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, or emailed to legal@stc.mo.gov, and a copy of the application must be sent to each person listed below in the certificate of service.

Failure to state the specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432.

Disputed Taxes

The Collector of Clark 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 this 24th, day of December, 2019.

 

STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI

John J. Treu

Senior Hearing Officer

 

 

Certificate of Service

I certify that on December 24th, 2019, a copy of the foregoing was sent via email to

 

 

Legal Coordinator

[1] All statutory citations are to RSMo 2000, as amended.