2011 is a “reassessment year” for real property taxes in Missouri. A property owner’s right to appeal an assessment is usually available only in “reassessment years.” Unless special circumstances exist, the assessment establishes the value for the next succeeding year as well. This article addresses real property tax appeals in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.
During April and May 2011 (depending upon the taxing district in which the property is located), property owners will receive written reassessment notices. Property owners should review the assessment carefully, not only for the proposed valuation, but also to confirm the proper classification (e.g., residential, commercial, agricultural). If you disagree with either the valuation or classification, you should consider availing yourself of the informal review process that the taxing jurisdictions have made available, and if no satisfactory relief is obtained, appealing to the appropriate Board of Equalization.
Please note that the procedures for appealing the assessments are very specific, with different deadlines for St. Louis City and surrounding counties.
In the City of St. Louis, a property owner may request an informal appeal by scheduling a meeting with the appraisal staff to review the appraised value and to verify the information in the Assessor’s records. Meetings are scheduled with the owners or their authorized representative by appointment only. A request for a meeting must be made within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the Change of Assessment Notice. Appointments can be made by calling (314) 589-6581 (for residential property) or (314) 589-6586 (for commercial property).
If a property owner is not satisfied after the informal meeting, the owner can appeal to the City of St. Louis Board of Equalization. Forms for appeal to the Board of Equalization must be requested in person or writing to: Board of Equalization, Room 120, City Hall, St. Louis, Mo., 63103. The appeal must be filed with the Assessor’s Office by July 11, 2011. The Board of Equalization will conduct hearings by appointment beginning on or about July 1, 2011. At the hearings, the Board of Equalization will hear evidence from the Assessor and the real property owner regarding the value of the property that is the subject of the appeal. A property owner does not need to appear in person before the Board of Equalization, but can instead sign a waiver of attendance, and the Board of Equalization will consider any evidence that the owner returns in-lieu of attending a hearing.
In St. Louis County, you can obtain your property’s value at www.stlouisco.com in advance of the mailing of your official reassessment notices, which occurs in the first week of May. If you wish to informally discuss your property’s reassessed value or classification over the phone, you may call the St. Louis County Assessor’s Office at (314) 615-4595 to schedule a conference. Locations for these conferences are available in St. Ann, Crestwood and Clayton and are scheduled for May 23 through June 13. Appointments must be made before the available time slots are filled or June 3, whichever occurs first.
In St. Louis County, the deadline to file an appeal is the second Monday of July, or July 11, 2011. Once an appeal is filed by the property owner, it is a three-step process. First, the property owner will meet with the St. Louis County Appraiser to review and discuss the County’s appraisal and its evidence, as well as any evidence the property owner has to support the owner’s opinion of value. If the Appraiser believes there are errors in the County’s description or appraisal of the property, the Appraiser may recommend an adjustment of the assessment. The Appraiser gives the recommendation to a Hearing Officer.
If the property owner does not agree with the Appraiser’s recommendation, the appeal then goes to a St. Louis County Board of Equalization Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer reviews the Appraiser’s recommendation and meets with the property owner to hear evidence, review documents and discuss the facts as to the value of the property. The Hearing Officer will consider all of the evidence presented and make a written recommendation to the Board of Equalization.
The final step is for the appeal to go to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. The Board of Equalization will review the appeal file, including all evidence, pictures, comparables, etc., that were presented, the Appraiser’s comments and the Hearing Officer’s recommendation. The Board of Equalization will consider all of the information in the file, together with information on other similar, or comparable, properties under appeal and make a decision regarding the property owner’s appeal.
Forms for appeals to the St. Louis County Board of Equalization can be obtained in person or in writing to: St. Louis County, Board of Equalization, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, Mo., 63105-1799. Forms may also be obtained on-line at http://revenue.stlouisco.com/AssessmentAppeal/Forms/Forms.aspx.
St. Charles County has instituted a three-step process for assessment appeals. First, a property owner may request an informal hearing. These informal hearings are conducted from the end of April through early June to discuss the property value or classification with a staff member of the Assessor’s office. If an agreement is not reached after speaking with a representative of the Assessor’s office, then the property owner needs to follow through with the next step, which is going to the St. Charles County Board of Equalization.
Members of the Board of Equalization meet during July and August to resolve valuation disputes between the property owner and the Assessor’s office. The deadline for appeals is the second Monday of July, or July 11, 2011. An appeal is taken by making an appointment by contacting the St. Charles County Registrar’s Office at (636) 949-7560.
In Jefferson County, if the property owner does not agree with the assessor’s reassessed value, the owner should first call the Assessor’s office and review the information on file and discuss the owner’s property valuation with the Assessor’s office staff. If, after calling or meeting with the Assessor’s office staff, the property owner still disputes the valuation, the property owner must contact the Jefferson County Board of Equalization before the second Monday of July, or July 11, 2011, to file an appeal. This may be accomplished by calling the County Clerk’s office at (636) 797-5478.
If the decision of the Board of Equalization for any of the above counties is not satisfactory to the property owner, the property owner may appeal to the State Tax Commission. Forms for an appeal to the State Tax Commission are provided by that Commission, or you may visit www.stc.mo.gov. The appeals to the State Tax Commission must be filed by September 30 of the tax year in dispute or within thirty (30) days of final action by the Board of Equalization, whichever is later.
Although the appeal process can be rather straightforward, it is not unusual to utilize attorneys in real property tax appeals due to special circumstances or personal limitations.