County decides not to take action on SB190
Ozark County Commissioners have decided not to take action on a recently implemented law that would freeze property taxes for senior citizens and allow retirement and Social Security income to be tax deductible under certain conditions.
Senate Bill 190 was signed into law in Missouri and went into effect on Aug. 28. The new law authorizes a county to grant a property tax credit to senior citizens who are eligible for Social Security benefits. The tax credit would be for taxes on the person’s primary residence.
While the Missouri Legislature passed the bill, and it was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, the law was written so that it cannot be enforced unless it is authorized by each county. In other words, each county must pass a resolution to implement the tax credits in their county.
Ozark County Presiding Commissioner Terry Newton issued a printed statement on the law during Tuesday’s county commission meeting.
In the letter, signed by Newton and fellow commissioners Gary Collins and Layne Nance, the issue is addressed by saying “The Commission wants its constituents to be assured that they take this legislation seriously and wishes to do the right thing in this matter. We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.”
The statement continues by saying: “Unfortunately the amendment to the existing statute is so vaguely written as passed as to be essentially unworkable at this time and any comments or positions taken about SB190 will simply be speculative and subject to change.
“The Commission has had extensive discussions with the assessor and collector offices along with attorneys and professional organizations that deal with county issues. As currently written, SB190 does not affect 2023 property taxes. Therefore the commission has determined that we are unable to take action or have an official position as further clarifications will have to be undertaken by the state of Missouri before implementation.”
The statement went on to say: “With the openness of this legislation, there is also a likelihood of litigation that will further complicate and modify implementation.”
Newton said any county residents who have questions about the new law should contact their state legislators.
“A lot of counties are doing this,” Newton said, referring to the inaction of the commissioners. “There’s just too much gray area.”
Without the blessing of the county commission, the tax credits cannot be implemented.
Newton said the changes would be a major undertaking for the assessor’s and collector’s offices. “It would put a tremendous workload on them,” Newton said.
Newton said he has been told by legislators that they plan to address the law and will likely change it during the fall legislative session. He said most neighboring counties have also not taken a position on the law.
The law, as passed reads: “This act authorizes a county to grant a property tax credit to eligible taxpayers residing in such county, provided such county has adopted an ordinance authorizing such credit, or a petition in support of such credit is delivered to the governing body of the county and is subsequently submitted to and approved by the voters, as described in the act.
Eligible taxpayers are defined as residents who: 1) are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits; 2) are the owner of record of or have a legal or equitable interest in a homestead; and 3) are liable for the payment of real property taxes on such homestead.”
Concerning retirement benefits income tax deductions, the law states: “Current law allows taxpayers with certain filing status and adjusted gross income below certain thresholds to deduct 100% of certain retirement and Social Security benefits from the taxpayer’s Missouri adjusted gross income, with a reduced deduction as the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income increases. For all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024, this act allows the maximum deduction to all taxpayers regardless of filing status or adjusted gross income.”