By: Aidan Pittman, Columbia Missourian
JEFFERSON CITY — Bills that would alter Missouri’s personal property tax by changing eligibility for its tax freeze and lowering assessment rates, were discussed Tuesday, Jan. 16th at a Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tax Policy hearing.
Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, sponsored SB 756 which would change eligibility for a real estate property tax freeze so that only Missourians aged 62 or older would qualify, rather than those who are social security eligible as stated under a previously passed bill.
Under current law, it’s up to every county to implement the tax freeze and Boone County has held off on implementing the optional policy. Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, has worked to gain signatures for a petition that would allow the policy to be on the ballot this year. Luetkemeyer’s bill is meant to clarify the language of the policy that was holding the Boone County Commission from implementing the policy.
Two identical bills, SB 733 and SB 725, were also heard by the committee. The bills, respectively authored by Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, would lower the assessment rate on personal property tax.
“This puts us on a path to completely ratchet out all personal property tax in the state,” Eigel said.
During public testimony, Steve Ehlmann, the St. Charles County executive, spoke in favor of Luetkemeyer’s bill for the clarification it offered.
“We didn’t know who was eligible,” Ehlmann said of the current legislation in place. “We also didn’t know what jurisdictions we could actually freeze.”
However, local government and state organizations voiced concerns during public testimony. Skip Stephens, chief of the Cottleville Fire Protection District, brought up concerns for Luetkemeyer’s bill during the testimony and how it could affect the revenue of political subdivisions such as fire departments. Stephens said afterward that he is concerned that the bill doesn’t clarify enough and that it should be more specific if such subdivisions are looped in on the tax freeze.
“The tax credits given will reduce the tax revenue if that law is applied to the political subdivisions,” Stephens said.
During public testimony for Eigel’s and Hoskins’ bills, Nancy Pennington, the executive director and CEO of the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services, spoke against both bills and told the Missourian they could cause more than $20 million in lost revenue.
“There’s currently a growing demand for services in the state, so we want to make sure that those concerns are still able to be addressed and that people don’t lose services,” Pennington said.