A new legislative committee will assess the tax policies of local governments, House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said in a Thursday news release.
“While the General Assembly continues to ensure Missourians keep more of their hard-earned money, we will remain vigilant that counties are not in return deviously raising Missourians’ taxes,” Haahr said in a statement.
Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, who will serve as chair, said the committee will research property tax assessments, internet sales taxes and other local taxation issues.
“The committee will exist over the interim for fact-finding purposes,” Eggleston said in a written response to Missouri questions. “Whether it exists during next session will be up to the Speaker, but I would guess any taxation legislation for next session would be handled in the Ways & Means Committee.”
Last year in Boone County, assessments of residential properties rose by about 8% in most neighborhoods. Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker said recent valuations have risen largely as a result of the economy recovering since the recession.
“We have an obligation to keep valuations current,” he said.
Schauwecker also noted various safeguards, such as the Hancock Amendment, are already in place that prevent taxing entities from exploiting the process.
The Hancock Amendment allows taxing entities to keep an inflationary allowance that must remain under 5% of total revenue. For anything beyond that, they must remain revenue-neutral, meaning a hike in a property’s valuation must correspond with some sort of drop in its tax rate. However, Schauwecker noted an 8% rise in a valuation will not lead directly to an 8% drop in tax rates.
In addition, the State Tax Commission measures the accuracy of assessments in each county and rules on legal disputes involving assessments.
“Missouri does a very, very, very good job,” Schauwecker said of the valuation process.
Eggleston said he wasn’t aware of any particular instances that sparked the creation of the committee, adding government should take away taxpayers’ money as “apologetically and minimally” as possible.