JEFFERSON CITY — Proposals to reduce property tax payments because of the pandemic and to use property tax as a way to increase school choice were approved by House members Wednesday.

Those amendments were added to a bill sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, that was originally proposed to alter the thresholds for when sales tax filings must be made.

After Wednesday morning’s House session, Senate Bill 226 now includes 11 amendments that include provisions relating to property tax, the sale of stolen or expired food, medical devices used to treat cancer and tax credits for S-corporations, among other things.

Among the most notable amendments to the bill was one proposed by Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis.

“During the pandemic, we’ve done a lot of harm to our businesses. By closing a business ... when the county says you can no longer do business, you have virtually evicted them from the place they are paying taxes on,” Murphy said.

What this amendment does, according to Murphy, is mandate that “if the county closes you down and says you can no longer make a living in your place of business, that you do not have to pay the property tax on that business during the period of time you are closed.”

The amendment’s text also states that it is not just a business closure that would allow for the property tax exemption, but it would also include occupancy restrictions.

The amendment states that if a business is restricted in any way by the county for more than 15 days, they no longer have to pay property taxes until those restrictions stop. The regulation would be retroactive to January.

Another notable amendment was proposed by Rep. Rick Francis, R-Perryville, who noted that the idea he was proposing had been brought up previously related to other bills.

“This amendment is one that the body has heard several times. It allows anyone who owns property in multiple school districts to have the option to choose where they wish to send their kids,” said Francis.

“We have tweaked it a little bit … if you have owned property for three years and have paid out $3,000 in property taxes, then you would have the choice to send your children to whichever school in (the district) that you’ve paid property taxes in,” Francis said.

The key change this amendment offers is that taxpayers no longer have to reside in the district they own property in to send their children to a school in that district.

Another amendment added to the bill would set new limits for low-income housing tax credits, which have been a point of contention in the legislature for several years. The amendment sets a cumulative cap of $80 million annually for projects not financed through tax-exempt bonds.

Another amendment, proposed by Rep. Lisa Thomas, R-Lake Ozark, would create a sales tax exemption for “class three medical devices … that use electric fields for the purposes of the treatment of cancer including components and repair parts and the disposable or single patient use supplies required for the use of such devices.”

Not allowing these products to be tax-exempt, according to Thomas, “has caused patients to incur a tax liability when purchasing these devices,” which improve their quality of life.

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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