St. Charles County seniors are eagerly awaiting the chance to sign up for the County’s senior citizen real estate property tax freeze. As the County government moves to implement that program, County leaders are also urging state lawmakers to clarify the underlying law.
Last September, the St. Charles County Council approved the freeze based on a newly written state law. However, the state’s vaguely worded statute left much open to interpretation—a “half-baked pie,” as Councilman Mike Elam described it.
County Executive Steve Ehlmann says the state legislature left important details out of the law—including what specific age seniors must be to qualify (St. Charles County says 62); and whether the County is allowed to freeze the portion of taxes collected by school districts or fire districts (St. Charles County says yes, with the exception of taxes slated for bond obligations).
“It would be a lot easier if the legislature would clarify this,” Ehlmann lamented during a visit to Jefferson City in January. He testified before state lawmakers to deliver a list of clarifications that would allow St. Charles County to implement its senior property tax freeze without fear of lawsuits.
County Collector of Revenue Michelle McBride says she appreciates the patience of senior residents who are eager to sign up. McBride says the target for opening the online application portal is March 1, 2024.
Paper applications will also be available on that date and will be available for pickup at the County Administration Building (201 N. Second St. in St. Charles). Per County ordinance, seniors wanting an application mailed to them must submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
The deadline for submitting applications to be eligible for a credit on the 2024 tax bill is June 30, 2024.
Qualifying seniors must be at least 62 years old. Documentation will be required showing proof of identity and age. Examples of identifying documents include government-issued IDs that show the applicant’s date of birth (driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, etc.).
A copy of the deed to the real estate will be required as proof of ownership. When the applicant is not the named owner on deed, additional written instruments must be submitted showing the applicant has legal or equitable interest and is liable for paying the tax (trust agreement, operating agreement, etc.).
Seniors will have to apply for the tax freeze every year to keep their tax amount frozen.
While the County prepares to roll out the program, McBride advises seniors to temper their expectations as state lawmakers have filed at least two bills already that would change aspects of the real estate property tax credit program.
“Depending on if and how legislation changes, the County’s plan to roll out the credits may need to change, too,” McBride cautions.
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