Nathan Coursey

Taxes are, unfortunately, a necessary evil. But when we have to pay them, we should at least expect that they be applied fairly, so everyone pays his or her share. It would be hard to argue that this is the case in the 10 Saint Louis municipalities listed in the table below. All of them tax commercial property owners at rates that are at least 125% of the rates that residents pay. In Edmundson, Twin Oaks, and Brentwood, residential property isn’t taxed at all. Even among these three, Edmundson stands out, because the commercial property tax rate there was doubled with the passage of Proposition C in the November 3 general election, while the residential rate remained unchanged—at zero. As a result, the commercial property tax rate in Edmundson will be more than 30 cents per $100 assessed value higher than in any of the other municipalities listed on the table.

2014 Property Tax Rates for Commercial and Residential Properties

Municipality

Commercial Assessed Value

Residential Assessed Value

Comm. Rate

Res. Rate

Rate Ratio (C/R)

1.

Edmundson

$18,330,570

$3,830,260

0.5*

0

No Res. Rate

2.

Twin Oaks

$8,211,080

$4,803,540

0.342

0

No Res. Rate

3.

Brentwood

$108,114,606

$131,496,620

0.2

0

No Res. Rate

4.

Maplewood

$68,431,831

$71,415,070

0.51

0.19

2.68

5.

Westwood

$236,136**

$18,275,380

0.1

0.059

1.69

6.

Crestwood

$59,662,160

$160,432,460

0.431

0.256

1.68

7.

Bridgeton

$249,636,058

$97,184,040

0.25

0.16

1.56

8.

Pasadena Hills

$105,890**

$9,212,610

0.5

0.3386

1.48

9.

Valley Park

$36,622,033

$68,733,500

0.668

0.484

1.38

10.

Pagedale

$11,446,030

$10,842,420

0.341

0.264

1.29

* Edmundson's Commercial Rate of 0.5 was just raised to 1.0.

** The total commercial property in these cities is so small that it raises very little money, whatever the rate may be.

Assessed values and rates are 2014 figures taken from the Missouri State Auditor's Office 2014 Property Tax Rates

Former Show-Me Institute Policy Researcher Michael Rathbone has taken Edmundson to task over this issue before, but the other municipalities listed have similar (if less extreme) taxation policies, shifting much of the cost of government services away from residents and onto commercial property owners. Residents in these areas might enjoy the low tax rates on their property (if they pay property tax at all), but it is short-sighted—not to mention unfair—to expect the owners of commercial property to pick up the slack.

About the Author

Nathan Coursey
Policy Intern
Nathan Coursey is an intern at the Show-Me Institute. He recently received his Master's of Science degree in City and Regional Planning at The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).