Committee leader sees hardship of property taxes on Missouri seniors



(The Center Square) – Missouri Speaker Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, increased the amount of work for Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, as chairman of a special committee on earnings taxes when he added evaluating property taxes to the agenda.

Plocher asked Murphy in August to lead a special committee to examine the 1% earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis. As counties begin to implement freezing property taxes for seniors as allowed in newly passed Senate Bill 190, Plocher added the topic to the committee’s task list.

“It will increase our workflow,” Murphy said in an interview with The Center Square. “We’ll certainly have more hearings than what we had planned originally. But you know it’s early. I’m looking at scheduling hearings and will probably have separate hearings on property taxes.”

Murphy held the first of three proposed hearings on the earnings tax in late August. He planned to hold hearings in St. Louis and Kansas City and complete the committee’s work by the end of October. He agreed with Plocher in the need for taking a closer look at property taxes.

“What it’s doing is hurting our seniors to such a degree that they no longer know if they can afford to keep their homes,” Murphy said. “And I don’t think it’s the charge of government to make it so our seniors will be out of their homes. They’ve worked all their lives, supported the government, supported their schools and were just being good citizens.”

Five counties in Missouri – Camden, Greene, Laclede, Jackson and St. Charles – passed legislation to take advantage of Senate Bill 190, passed by the General Assembly this spring and signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson. It allows taxpayers living in counties with a tax-credit authorization to pay the previous year’s amount of property taxes on their home if they are eligible to receive Social Security benefits. St. Louis County failed to pass a measure on the tax credit in July but is taking it up again this week.

School districts have been the most vocal opponents to the legislation, but others have highlighted problems.

“This bill is every bit as much of a tax increase on non-senior citizens as it is tax relief for some senior citizens,” David Stokes, director of municipal policy, told the St. Louis County Council in July. “This plan is problematic because it favors older homeowners at the expense of new, younger homeowners. People who live in similarly valued homes with similar public services should pay similar property taxes. The young couple who has lived in their home for a year should not pay higher property taxes than their neighbor just because their neighbor has lived there for two decades.”



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