Greene County Collector Allen Icet at a meeting in the Greene County Historic Courthouse in Springfield on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 in Springfield. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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Thousands of Greene County senior citizens could soon benefit from a property tax freeze enabled through a Missouri law enacted in 2023, which could be revised to provide counties more discretion and clarity.

The proposed revisions of Senate Bill 756 — which passed the General Assembly on the last day of the legislative session and await Gov. Mike Parson’s signature — aim to remedy “challenges” with the property tax freeze established under Senate Bill 190. Both bills were sponsored by Parkville Republican Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer.

SB 190 enabled counties — via administrative action or initiative petition — to provide eligible senior citizens tax credits by freezing the tax liability on their primary residence. Greene County, among a handful of Missouri’s more populous counties, subsequently passed the tax freeze.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville. (Photo from Missouri Senate)

Pending changes include clarifications on who is eligible for the tax freeze and when, how annexation and improvements to a property impact the credit amount and the authority of county commissions to implement and revise their respective programs.

In a push for clarity, Greene County Collector of Revenue Allen Icet led a Missouri Association of Counties’ task force to develop solutions that address the law’s discrepancies. While pleased with the changes awaiting Parson’s approval, Icet hopes to see additional revisions in the future.

“[Senate Bill] 756 addressed an overwhelming majority of the concerns we have,” Icet said. “There are still a few, relatively small things that I would like to see tweaked, but I'm going to rely on MAC to say ‘Do we call this a victory and just take what we have? Or do we go back in 2025 to try to adjust a few things?’ But overall, we’re very happy with the changes.”

Bill clarifies who is eligible, and when

Of the revisions and additions proposed under SB 756, clarity on who is eligible for the property tax freeze is the “biggest change,” Icet said. Current law is largely unclear, though Social Security eligibility is a prerequisite to unlock the property tax relief in Greene County, and has been interpreted similarly in other counties.

The new bill removes language related to Social Security retirement benefits, and makes all homeowners 62 years of age and older eligible for the tax credit, which is determined by the difference between the tax liability on a given property in a given year and the tax rate the year a homeowner became eligible.

Eligible taxpayers will see the credit applied to their tax bills, rather than be provided as a check.

Though the new bill makes reference to other taxing jurisdictions and political subdivisions, Icet said it could still be misinterpreted as only being applicable to real estate taxes that are paid to a county government.

“Those are some of the finer points I was talking about,” Icet said of the revisions SB 756 didn't include. “But the key is, it's not retroactive.”

SB 756 allows the credit to increase — and the frozen tax rate to decrease — if the tax rate on property is lower in a given year than it was in the initial credit year, which is based on when a taxpayer became eligible based on when the application has been filed.

Senate Bill 756, if signed into law, could address an “overwhelming majority of the concerns” with the property tax freeze enabled under a 2023 state law, according to Greene County Collector Allen Icet. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

In Greene County, tax credits will be based on 2024 tax bills, and because reassessment occurs every odd-numbered year, senior citizens who own property likely won’t see a tax credit until 2025, Icet said.

While the bill explicitly provides county governments some discretion in implementing the tax freeze, so long as it doesn’t limit the eligible credit amount or eligible taxpayers from accessing the tax relief, it includes a provision to allow an ordinance to be amended or superseded by an initiative petition.

However, senior citizens receiving the credit could see increases to their property tax liability related to any new construction or improvements to their property, or if their property is annexed into a taxing jurisdiction where they did not owe property taxes in their initial credit year.

SB 756 also requires counties to notify every political subdivision in the county of the total credit amount pertinent to each jurisdiction by Nov. 13 of each year.

Financial impact of the tax freeze is still a concern

While SB 756 provides clarity to taxing authorities, concerns remain over the financial impact a tax freeze could have on taxing jurisdictions reliant on property tax revenues, including public schools, parks and library systems, fire protection districts and other entities.

Icet emphasized that the tax credits were not retroactive, which was a concern of political subdivisions, and that it was only available going forward.

While some taxing jurisdictions around the state have attempted to estimate their potential loss in revenue, Icet believes it will result in a relatively “modest reduction,” in Greene County, though the true impact is difficult to discern.

Icet said he will likely recalculate his estimates on the impact of the tax freeze to Greene County’s taxing jurisdictions to adjust for the larger pool of eligible taxpayers under SB 756, though he noted that not every eligible senior will likely apply for the credit.

A side view of the Historic Greene County Courthouse with a cannon replica out-front.
The Historic Greene County Courthouse. (Photo by Dean Durtis)

“The reductions in tax revenue the political subdivisions receive, in my opinion, will be relatively minimal,” Icet said. “They can make an adjustment and they’ll have an idea of what will happen going forward as reassessments go up and those tax levies change.”

While the implementation of the property tax freeze is similar across the few counties that have authorized the tax credit, thanks to guidance provided by MAC, some counties have taken different approaches.

For example, Jackson County and St. Louis County have both included home value caps of $550,000, a provision that could lead to lawsuits or be nullified by SB 756, which prohibits counties from limiting the credit amount. Icet said that it was not the intent of the legislature to “means test this.”

In Christian County, the Collector's Office is tasked with processing applications, while the Clerk's Office is responsible in Greene County.

How to apply for the tax credit in Greene County

While awaiting changes to the law, Greene County has already started processing applications for the senior citizen property tax credit. The application form, and additional information on how to apply is available on the Greene County Clerk’s website.

While the current form requires applicants to provide a copy of their current Social Security statement or Social Security benefit verification letter, the requirement would be removed if SB 756 is signed into law, at which time the Greene County Commission would likely consider revisions to the county’s current ordinance.

Under the current order in Greene County, eligible taxpayers have until Sept. 30 to apply and must sign the application in the presence of a notary. Applications must be submitted to the Collector's Office by June 30 in Christian County.

As of May 29, 1,370 homeowners have applied for the tax credit in Greene County, according to Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller. Based on U.S. Census data and the average rate of homeownership, Schoeller estimates there are 26,463 homeowners eligible for the tax credit in Greene County.

Seniors that have already submitted an application will not need to submit a new application if SB 756 becomes law, as the Greene County Clerk’s Office can determine eligibility based on information provided in the first form.

Though the credit amount will be based on the initial credit year, eligible taxpayers in Greene County will be required to reapply annually to continue receiving the tax credit.


Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Hauxeda. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@hauxeda.com or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee