Missouri lawmaker proposes raising “Circuit Breaker” tax credits

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Every Missourian knows property values and property taxes have risen dramatically in the past 15 years, as well as the cost of rent.

State lawmakers are now looking at increasing what’s known as the “circuit breaker” as well. The Missouri Property Tax Credit has not changed since 2008. It was designed to help low-income seniors and Missourians with disabilities, both homeowners and renters, stay in their homes longer.

House Bill 1351 would raise both the amount of tax credit and the income eligibility limit.

Juli Jordan, director of marketing and community engagement/wellness for the SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging, says the update is long overdue. “The very people that this credit was designed for are being left out now, with inflation and rates going up; housing rates and renters’ rates going up,” Jordan contended. “It’s leaving out those people who need it the most.”

The maximum tax credit has been $750 for renters and $1,100 for homeowners since 2008. The bill would raise the maximum tax credit for renters to $1,055, and for homeowners to $1,550 in 2024, and includes an annual adjustment based on inflation. The income eligibility level would also increase and be adjusted annually based on inflation.

Jordan noted in 2021, the average credit was $602, and only Missourians earning less than $14,300 a year qualified for the full credit. She pointed to the challenges many seniors and people living with disabilities are facing, especially in light of inflation. “Some seniors, have to decide, ‘Can I buy groceries, or am I going to pay my utility bill?’ ” Jordan observed. “Or even having to decide, ‘Can I get my life-altering medications this month?’ “

Jordan stressed increasing the “circuit breaker” limits would not impact the amount of tax money available for schools or other tax-dependent services. The bill is not currently on the Missouri House legislative calendar. It was introduced by Rep. Marlene Terry, D-St. Louis County.

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