Maurice Harris

In Sunday's Jefferson County Journal, an op-ed piece discusses a way to stop spiraling property taxes in Missouri. The plan includes moving away from tax rates on residential property to a base tax that would be calculated from a house's final selling price. After two years, any improvements made on the house would not count toward the property tax. This would reduce the penalty that people faces for making housing improvements that most homeowners do later in their lives. As the author states:



However, the question I have asked myself for years is this: when a homeowner adds a deck or another room to his or her residence does the local or county government incur additional expenses necessary to provide basic services to the citizens of the community?



The answer to this question is an emphatic "No!"



This plan would also allow room for adjustments to the property tax due to cost-of-living and inflation:



To factor in inflation and cost-of-living it is necessary to allow for adjustments in the base tax. This might be accomplished by setting an inflation cap of 2 or 3 percent periodically. The voters must approve any increase above this.



Overall, the plan sounds solid. Instead of basing property taxes on the infamous drive-by assessments, as has been done in St. Louis County, they should be based on uniform standards that homeowners can understand. Also, it's about time that homeowners stopped being penalized for making improvements to their homes, by extra taxes being added by assessors to homeowners' property tax bills. It makes no sense that homeowners are penalized for trying to improve the houses that they live in.

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Maurice Harris