ARMSTRONG-TROTWOOD, LLC, ARMSTRONG-BRITTANY, LLC, ARMSTRONG-ARBOR VILLAGE, LLC, ROBERT S. ROTHSCHILD, JR., SUSAN H. ROTHSCHILD, GEIGER REAL ESTATE, INC., and JOSH & ELAINE, LLC, Appellants,
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI, BRUCE E. DAVIS, RANDY B. HOLMAN, VICTOR CALLAHAN, ST. LOUIS COUNTY, and JAKE ZIMMERMAN, Respondents.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY The Honorable
Joseph L. Walsh, III, Judge
R. Russell, Judge
(Landowners) are taxpayers that own residential property
located entirely in St. Louis County. They claim their
property assessments are discriminatory and non-uniform in
violation of article X, section 3 of the Missouri
Constitution. In support of their claim, Landowners argue
Jefferson and Franklin counties systematically undervalued
property in those counties, allegedly causing Landowners to
bear a "disproportionate share of the cost of
operating" multi-county taxing districts. Landowners
concede, however, their property valuations were accurate and
uniform within St. Louis County. This Court affirms the
dismissal of Landowners' administrative claims for review
and their claim for declaratory relief.
pay taxes on residential property located entirely in St.
Louis County. Their properties also fall within several
multi-county taxing jurisdictions that levy tax rates on
properties in St. Louis, Jefferson, and Franklin
appealed their 2011-12 property tax assessments to the St.
Louis County Board of Equalization (County Board) claiming
their assessments were discriminatory. Although Landowners
conceded the property valuations were accurate and uniform
within St. Louis County, they claimed the assessments were
discriminatory because properties situated in Jefferson and
Franklin Counties were allegedly systematically undervalued,
causing Landowners to bear a "disproportionate share of
the cost of operating" the multi-county taxing
County Board upheld the assessments, and Landowners appealed
their assessments to the State Tax Commission (Commission).
The hearing officer dismissed the appeals. After reviewing
the hearing officer's decision, the Commission affirmed
the dismissal of Landowners' claims, reasoning that its
authority is derivative of the County Board, which did not
have authority over inter-county claims.
filed a petition in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County
seeking review of a contested case pursuant to section
536.100, RSMo Supp. 2013,  or, alternatively, of a non-contested case
pursuant to section 536.150, RSMo 2000. The petition also
sought a declaratory judgment that Landowners'
assessments were discriminatory and that the Commission
failed to carry out its duty to equalize property assessments
as between counties. See Mo.
Const. art. X, sec. 14. The circuit court dismissed the
petition with prejudice for failing to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
appealed and, after opinion, the court of appeals transferred
the case to this Court pursuant to article V, sections 10 and
11 of the Missouri Constitution, concluding the appeal presents matters of
general interest and importance and raises issues within this
Court's exclusive appellate jurisdiction. See
Mo. Const. art. V, sec. 3.
This Court Does Not Have Exclusive Appellate Jurisdiction of
court of appeals transferred this case after concluding it
lacked jurisdiction to decide the merits. It reasoned that
the case involved the construction of revenue laws of the
state, including: (1) article X, section 3 of the Missouri
Constitution, which provides that taxes "shall be
uniform upon the same class or subclass of subjects within
the territorial limits of the authority levying the
tax"; (2) article X, section 14, which establishes the
Commission "to equalize assessments as between
counties" and "to hear appeals from local
boards"; and (3) certain statutes in Chapter 138 of the
Missouri Revised Statutes outlining the duties and authority
of the Commission.
Court, it is true, has exclusive jurisdiction of questions
regarding the construction of revenue laws of the state. Mo.
Const. art. V, sec. 3. And although construction of the
provisions at issue here presents important matters with
statewide ramifications, none of the provisions is a
"revenue law of this state" as this Court has
interpreted that phrase.
involves the "construction of the revenue laws of this
state" if it satisfies three separate elements:
"(1) construction (2) of revenue laws (3) of this
state." Alumax Foils, Inc. v. City of St.
Louis, 939 S.W.2d 907, 910 (Mo. banc 1997). A
"revenue law" is one that imposes, amends, or
abolishes a tax or fee. Id. In other words, the law
must "directly create or alter an income stream to
the government." Id. Article X, section 3
imposes limitations and restrictions on how taxes may be
levied by political subdivisions of the state. Article X,
section 14 provides for the creation of the Commission and
specifies its general powers and duties. Provisions in
Chapter 138 provide the framework for the creation of ...