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For Missouri Residents, Push to Reduce Taxes Continues


Some older Missourians should start to see tax relief in 2024 — and might be due for even more, depending on what happens at the Missouri General Assembly.

Due to 2023 legislation, many residents 62 and older will see relief on property and income taxes this year. At the same time, lawmakers and advocacy groups such as AARP are working to expand tax relief to more residents by updating a separate tax credit that hasn’t kept pace with inflation.

For some older Missouri residents, the tax changes already on the books could be worth several hundred dollars a year.

The legislation easily passed the Missouri General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Mike Parson (R) in July 2023. Here’s how it’s already affecting your taxes:

Social Security income. Prior to the law going into effect for 2024 income, Missouri was among 12 states that taxed Social Security benefits to some degree. If your adjusted gross income was more than $85,000 as an individual ($100,000 or more for couples filing jointly), a share of your Social Security income was taxed. As of January 2024, that tax is gone — although many taxpayers might not notice until filing 2024 taxes in April 2025.

Public pension income. Since Missouri teachers, firefighters and government workers often aren’t eligible to receive Social Security benefits, the law eliminated state income taxes on public-sector pensions (up to certain limits). That’s also effective on 2024 income.

Property tax freeze. County governments can freeze property taxes for anyone eligible for Social Security. Greene, Jackson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties — along with a few smaller ones — have passed some version of the property tax freeze, as has the city of St. Louis. These four counties and the city of St. Louis account for more than 44 percent of the state’s population.

A push for more relief

Counties are not obligated to pass the property tax freeze. Some lawmakers and local officials have found the law’s wording confusing — for example, should it kick in at age 62 or 65? — and are awaiting more clarification before putting a freeze in place, says Jay Hardenbrook, AARP Missouri’s associate state director for advocacy.

Separate from the property tax freeze, AARP Missouri is working toward additional relief for older residents through an effort to modernize the state’s property tax credit program, which has been in effect since the 1970s.

“This is something that’s not going to just help those in suburban areas, but it will help folks in every corner of the state of Missouri,” says state Sen. Tracy McCreery (D), who represents part of St. Louis County. “We want people to be able to stay in their homes as long as possible.”

Called the “circuit breaker credit,” the program offsets property taxes and rent for older adults with low incomes and some adults with both disabilities and low incomes, including veterans. The maximum credit is $750 for renters and $1,100 for homeowners. Eligibility is based on income, and those income levels — for example, no more than $30,000 for a single homeowner — haven’t been updated since 2008.

During the pandemic, property assessments, rent prices and inflation all shot up. At the same time, cost-of-living increases boosted retirement benefits.

“We were seeing more and more people just not even being eligible for that tax credit anymore,” Hardenbrook says.

AARP has been working with legislators and two nonprofit organizations — the Show-Me Institute and the Missouri Budget Project — to determine the best ways to make sure older adults continue to receive the credit.

A Senate bill sponsored by McCreery and a House bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Matthiesen (R-O’Fallon) would increase the maximum property tax credit for renters and owners to $1,055 and $1,550, respectively.

Beyond that, the bills would increase income cutoffs and also adjust them annually for inflation.

“I could think of nothing that would impact more folks in my district than adjusting this circuit breaker tax credit,” says McCreery.

Michelle Cerulli McAdams is based in Massachusetts and has written for the Bulletin for 10 years. She covers health, medicine, politics and policy.

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