Why Commercial Property Assessors Aren’t Always Right – Appealing Assessments


St. Louis, Missouri…“If property assessors were always right, the tax appeals process wouldn’t exist,” asserts Drey A. Cooley, who appeals property values for commercial and residential properties, including hotels, leased commercial real estate and high-value residential homes in Missouri as an attorney at Capes, Sokol, Goodman + Sarachan, P.C.



Successful appeals can save substantial sums of money in taxes,” adds Cooley, who represents property owners before city and county boards of equalization across Missouri and, also, the Missouri State Tax Commission for tax assessment appeals. 




“The appraised value of real estate determines the amount of taxes assessed on the property, yet appraised values are often disputed and successfully appealed,” says Cooley. “Assessed property values are not set in stone, even during a non-reassessment tax year such as 2014,” Cooley says.



“Appeals can be made for overvaluation, discrimination, misgraded agricultural land, exemption, misclassification and other reasons,” says Cooley, who every year since 2011 has been identified as a Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine.




“A property owner can appeal the assessed value of real estate, but there are a number of strict deadlines that the owner must follow,” Cooley continues.  Property owners can review the value of property at city or county assessor websites or by calling the assessor’s office. Copies of Change of Assessment and Projected Tax Liability Notices are usually available by May 31st. To receive a printed notice, contact the assessor’s office.



“City and county assessors encourage property owners to review their preliminary values as soon as possible,” says Cooley. “Property owners should not wait to receive a formal Change of Assessment Notice. Waiting can delay timely appeals.”



“This appeals process has three stages,” he continues. “These involve a meeting at the assessor’s office to learn how the assessment was made, factors considered and what type of records the Assessor utilized. That meeting is followed by an appeal to the assessment authority’s Board of Equalization (BOE) and, if the Board of Equalization appeal is unsuccessful, an appeal to the Missouri State Tax Commission.”


“By state statute the BOE can only accept real estate and personal property assessment appeals filed before the second Monday in July of each year. Between May 1 and the second Monday in July, property owners may file an appeal by mail, or, if accepted, electronically with the BOE,” Cooley says.


“The State Tax Commission process is formal and largely governed by Missouri’s Rules of Civil Procedure, which means that only certain documentation is admissible and complex discovery is conducted. Legal representation is highly recommended.”



“Property owners cannot simply complain that their property tax is too high; they must present evidence that the assessed value is incorrect, and support their opinion of correct assessed value,” Cooley explains.  “Such evidence can come from, for example, an appraisal, sale of the property, lease agreement and photographic evidence of the property at or near the time the property was reassessed or factual or expert witness testimony concerning the property’s assessed value from the owner or third-party witnesses.”  Merely pointing to your neighbor’s house for sale down the street is not sufficient.



“The State Tax Commission appeals process takes time. Assessed taxes often must be paid before the matter is completed.  Upon a successful result in front of the State Tax Commission, any overpayment will be reimbursed.”


Cooley is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Illinois Bar, the Federal Bar and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, as well as the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He earned a J.D. at University of Michigan Law School, and a B.A., Psychology, Phi Beta Kappa, with honors, at Washington University in St. Louis.


Capes, Sokol, Goodman + Sarachan, P.C. in Clayton, Missouri, is a firm of seasoned attorneys, committed to achieving business and individual client objectives in the most effective and efficient manner possible. When resolution requires litigation or the skills of an innovative transactional attorney, this group of attorneys has a long and distinguished record of success. 



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