A bill signed by Gov. Mike Parson that aims to bring property tax relief to Missouri senior citizens could end up in court. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, would allow counties to freeze the property tax rates of Missouri seniors.

The property tax revenue helps to fund local schools and governments, which could lead to some tough budget decisions for them.

Doug Hayter, executive director of the Missouri Association of School Administrators, said the bill is vague.

“What is Social Security eligibility? Is it just at 62 to 65, 67, et cetera? How do you gather that information on birthdates about the person of the primary residence turns 65, so there’s a lot of semantics I think involved in the implementation of this that can be really tricky,” said Hayter. “Some have even questioned does the language say, is it insinuating this is only for the county’s portion of property tax paid? We don’t believe that’s the case. We think it means all taxing jurisdictions, but that question has been raised as well. So, I will be surprised as well personally, if this doesn’t eventually end up in court.”

He said a balance is a good thing.

“We definitely want to take care of our senior citizens who have supported and work their entire lives. We do need that balance to allow them to stay in their homes and be able to afford it,” said Hayter. “Many of the other programs that we currently have in place – like the circuit breaker program, there’s currently a tax benefit on Missouri public pensions and Social Security that are dependent upon how much income that you make – things like that, where there is some balance with helping our seniors and also those who can afford to pay the tax, and our higher income level learners can continue to promote and support all of our public services including schools.”

The legislation was carried in the House by state Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho.

“Their home is their largest asset and the equity in someone’s home is an investment of a lifetime and the one tangible thing people have to show for their lifetime of work,” Baker said during House passage this year on the bill. “Seniors who have played by the rules their entire lives, save for retirement, pay their fair share of taxes, should never face the prospect of being taxed out of their home by the government.”

The proposal would also exempt social security benefits from state income taxes, no matter how much is made.

To view Senate Bill 190, click here.

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