Missouri counties begin senior property tax freeze as legislators review revision

(The Center Square) – Two of Missouri’s largest counties and the city of St. Louis started the process for implementing property tax relief for senior citizens as the Missouri Senate is working to revise the law passed last year.

Senate Bill 190, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, and signed into law in 2023 by Republican Gov. Mike Parson, allows those eligible for Social Security retirement benefits to receive a tax credit that essentially freezes the property tax on their primary residence. Taxpayers need only to be eligible for Social Security benefits and not actually drawing on them.

Senate Bill 756, also sponsored by Luetkemeyer, would change the law defining an eligible taxpayer from someone who is eligible for Social Security retirement benefits to someone who is 62 years of age or older. This would allow people to get property tax relief if they aren’t eligible to receive Social Security benefits, such as those who didn’t pay into the federal benefits program and instead contributed to pension plans.

This year’s bill would increase the amount of property tax liability to reflect any new construction and improvements made to a taxpayer’s home. If a home is annexed into a taxing jurisdiction and the taxpayer didn’t owe any tax in the initial year of the tax credit, the law would allow the property tax for the first year to be increased to reflect the actual property tax liability owed to the annexing jurisdiction.

The tax will freeze at the 2024 amount, so the change will first be reflected in 2025.

Jackson County began accepting tax credit applications for its residents this week. Taxpayers are eligible if they are a county resident, own the property or have a legal or equitable interest in the home, are liable for the payment of property taxes, and are eligible for Social Security benefits. The market value of the property must be less than $550,000 to be eligible for the credit. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

Taxpayers in St. Louis have similar requirements with a few modifications. Taxpayers must be age 62 and older and have earned at least 40 Social Security credits. In addition to residing in the city, the property must be valued at $500,000 or less. The deadline to apply is June 30.

“This property tax freeze is meant to protect senior St. Louis residents from being displaced due to rising property values as a result of community and economic development,” Democratic St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement. “I encourage qualifying seniors to apply so they can take part in the economic development of our city without the risk of being priced out of their homes.”

In St. Charles County, qualifying taxpayers must be at least 62 years of age on Jan. 1, 2024. The application deadline is June 30 and eligible residents must apply for the tax freeze each year to keep the amount frozen. The county doesn’t have a value requirement on the home for eligibility.

St. Louis County, with the largest population of any county in the state, hasn’t completed its process to freeze property taxes.

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