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Missouri officials discussing ways to prevent personal property tax spikes

If you are in Missouri, then your personal property taxes are due before the end of the year. For many taxpayers, they are up by record amounts.

MISSOURI, USA — If you live in Missouri and you've got a car, then you're likely feeling a bigger strain on your bank account.

Kevin McCauley is paying about $124 more in personal property taxes for the three cars he had last year. Count the car he recently replaced with a newer one, his bill went up by about $1,100. 

"We still have three kids in college," he said. 

He said taxes on his cars have never been higher. 

"We've cut back on Christmas, dining out…investing in our home," he said. 

It's why Steve Hobbs with the Missouri Association of Counties is working with the governor and other lawmakers around the state. He wants to give taxpayers some protection. 

An option on the table: allowing tax assessors to adjust for inflation and ultimately, help lower tax bills. 

"I think we need to give the folks that are doing this job a few more tools in our toolbox to look at that and say, look, we know this is an anomaly and it's going to go back down. Why should it spike up one year and drop the next?" Hobbs said. 

It's because over the last year, we've seen a nationwide spike in the value of the most common type of personal property -- cars. Missouri’s tax commission blames supply chain issues, chip shortages, and record-high inflation caused by the pandemic.

It also boils down to some math. In Missouri, local tax rates are applied to one-third of your car's value. When the car's value goes up, your tax bill does too. 

"So more of that car's value is taxable, which means those bills are going to increase a lot more as well," Janelle Fritts, a policy analyst with a tax policy research group in Washington D.C. called the Tax Foundation, said.

"Does there need to be a cap?" asked the I-Team's Paula Vasan.

"Yes, anything that you can do in order to keep those bills from increasing as much would be a good idea," Fritts said. 

Some states are doing just that. 

According to research by the Tax Foundation, Connecticut will start capping rates on personal property taxes for vehicles next year. Virginia and Mississippi have funds that help lower payments. Rhode Island will get rid of personal property taxes on cars in 2023.   

Hobbs doesn't want to do away with personal property taxes. Looking at his own bill, his money is going to areas he cares about. 

"Seventy-seven percent of this goes to my local school district," he said. 

He wants Missouri tax law to change, so people like McCauley aren't scrambling. 

"So, it would have been nice to have a gradual increase. But, you know, that wasn't the case. It was a surprise," said McCauley. 

McCauley just hopes next year is more predictable.

If you think your personal property assessment is wrong, you can appeal to the Missouri State Tax Commission. A spokesperson there tells us they handle up to 20,000 appeals every year. You can file an appeal here.

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