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Missouri lawmakers propose property tax exemption for disabled veterans

Missouri veterans with total service-related disabilities could receive an exemption from paying property taxes if the legislature and voters approve a bipartisan effort proposed for next session. 

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer and Rep. Ashley Aune pre-filed resolutions in their respective chambers last week to extend exemptions from real property taxes to any Missouri veteran with a total disability connected to their service. 

Luetkemeyer, a Republican, said the resolutions would alter a provision in the constitution requiring the tax assessment on property to be based on market values. The change would have to be passed by the legislature and then head to the ballot for final approval before it could be enacted. 

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer

“The purpose is really to protect those vulnerable veterans who may not have a source of active income to make sure they’re never put in a situation where they could be forced out of their home through taxation by the government,” Luetkemeyer told The Missouri Times. “They’ve paid a tremendous debt to this country by serving our nation in the armed forces, so we want to make sure we’re taking care of them.”

Aune and Luetkemeyer were approached by a constituent who took note of the narrow scope of an existing policy approved by voters in 2010.

“He is a 100 percent disabled veteran who noticed that current statute allows for property tax relief for prisoners of war,” Aune said on this week’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics.” “That’s a very specific designation. Very few people meet that qualification here in Missouri, so his suggestion was that we open it up to 100 percent disabled veterans and allow them to have that benefit as well.”

If the measure made it to the ballot, the language would ask voters:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to exempt veterans of the Armed Forces with a total service-connected disability from property tax on the veteran’s real property?”

A similar effort was proposed in 2018 through a bicameral effort, but none of those resolutions received a hearing. Luetkemeyer said he believed the latest effort would garner support from lawmakers and veterans groups once session gets underway. 

“Taking care of our veterans is a non-partisan issue. Every lawmaker has the desire to make sure those that serve our nation are treated fairly and make sure that we’re taking care of them,” Luetkemeyer said. “I view this as a good government issue and one where, regardless of one’s party, I think we’ll get broad support in both houses of the General Assembly for this legislation.”

The Department of Revenue (DOR) allows fully disabled veterans a maximum $750 personal property tax credit for renters and $1,100 for homeowners. 

Other states have already expanded their exemption policies. While all 50 have credits or some form of waiver on the books, 17 offer full exemptions for fully-disabled veterans, including Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Oklahoma. Exact criteria and benefits differ among the states. 

Missouri is home to nearly 480,000 veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 15 percent of the state’s veterans have service-related disabilities. 

Pre-filing opened last week. The 2022 legislative session begins Jan. 5.