For Immediate Release: December 1, 2023
Senior advocates from across the state applauded efforts to update Missouri’s Property Tax Credit, or “circuit breaker,” emphasizing how common-sense adjustments to the existing credit will help keep older adults and Missourians with disabilities who are living on fixed incomes stay in their homes.
The Missouri Property Tax Credit was meant to help these Missourians remain living independently in their homes by offsetting a portion of the cost of property tax. Unfortunately, neither income eligibility guidelines nor the size of the credit have been modified since 2008, so fewer people qualify for it, and the value of the credit itself has eroded over time.
“Every year, more and more of the very folks the credit was designed for are being left out,” said Jay Hardenbrook, Advocacy Director for AARP Missouri. “Income guidelines and credit amounts have fallen behind even inflationary increases, which the legislature can fix this year.”
“Aging adults deserve to live their best possible lives in the homes and communities of their choice,” said Julie Peetz, Executive Director of Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging. “But many aren’t getting the assistance they need to stay at home where they’ve raised their families.”
The credit is also vital to Missourians living with disabilities, who also often face higher costs for accessible housing. Although property taxes increase annually, the size of the credit is flat, and hasn’t increased since 2008. “The credit helps so many Missourians remain independent,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Manager of Public Policy & Advocacy at Paraquad. “Although it’s a modest credit, it’s significant to neighbors who need it to afford housing costs, technology, or other kinds of assistance to live independently.”
Representative Mark Matthiesen and Senator Tracy McCreery are both prefiling legislation to address these issues. “Over the last several years, the cost of housing has grown exponentially, while our only program to help people with disabilities and low-income senior citizens afford to stay in their homes has remained outdated,” said Representative Matthiesen. “This legislation will provide vitally necessary assistance to those who need it most.”
“Missourians now are facing a double whammy,” said Laura Loyacono, with Jackson County Seniors Count. “Eligibility hasn’t been adjusted for inflation, so fewer people who need it qualify, and when they do, their credit is smaller because they are higher on an income scale that was developed fifteen years ago.”
Some parts of the state have seen rapidly increased property assessments, making the credit all the more critical. “Property tax increases are pricing older adults and Missourians with disabilities out of their homes,” said Jamie Opsal, Executive Director of the St. Louis City Senior Fund. “At the same time, the property tax credit has stayed the same.”
“This bill if passed will promote property tax affordability and truly make a difference in the lives of many older adults and people living with disabilities,” added Senator McCreery. “Missouri’s Circuit Breaker is a lifeline that desperately needs updated.”
“The proposals are critical to thousands of Missourians across the state,” said Amy Blouin, President and CEO of Missouri Budget Project. “These bills would offer meaningful property tax relief to older adults and Missourians with disabilities without hurting schools, libraries, fire departments, senior centers, or other services that rely on local property taxes.”
For more information about the Missouri Property Tax Credit, ways to strengthen the credit, and county-level use of the current credit, please see Missouri Budget Project’s updated report Improving Missouri’s Property Tax Credit Would Help Seniors, Missourians With Disabilities Stay in Their Homes.