Missourians grappling with increased personal property tax rates, legislators working on a fix

A new kind of “sticker shock” is now hitting thousands of Missourians as vehicle owners are noticing sharp increases in county property tax rates compared to 2021.

Unfortunately, the reason for this may be easy to explain, but much harder to overcome for many Missouri families. 

“Due to supply chain problems, chip shortages, and record-high inflation, fewer motor vehicles have been available in the market while overall demand for vehicles has remained high,” the Missouri State Tax Commission said in a press release. “Consequently, the values of motor vehicles have been driven upward.”

County personal property tax rates in Missouri are determined by the county assessors, who are required by law to value property at “fair market value,” according to the state tax commission. To do so for motor vehicles, Missouri law requires the assessors to use the trade-in value of the vehicle published in that year’s October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) price guide. 

“Let’s just say what it is. This is bonkers,” St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman told Fox 2 Now. “I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Surging vehicle valuations are great news for car dealerships, but less than fortunate news for those having to pay more to keep the same vehicle they’ve already purchased. This brings additional stress to most working-class families who are still grappling with 2022’s unprecedented price increases for gas and groceries.

“I think it affects families hard, because some will have to decide if they’re going to pay their taxes or their utility bill, or Christmas gifts for their children or putting food on the table,” House Assistant Majority Floor Leader Jamie Burger said. “Even for the people that have the ability to pay, they didn’t budget for this increase and it cuts into the profits that they anticipated making this year.

“Every year your vehicle is worth less. I’ve got a 2016 Ford F-150 and it went up. It’s got 150,000 miles on it, and no way should it have gone up.”

Burger says the Missouri House passed a bill last year that would’ve given county assessors the ability to use prior year’s valuations, such as 2019 or 2020, in order to avoid a steep one-year rate hike similar to 2022. While that bill didn’t make it across the Missouri Senate’s finish line, Burger promises similar legislation will be presented this year. 

“There’s a lot of legislation being presented to negate that so it doesn’t happen again and I think we need to be on top of that very hard,” Burger said. “This leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth when taxes are raised. I think everybody is willing to pay their fair share, but when you see an increase on a 2016 Ford pickup, that’s tough to understand.”

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