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Oct 03

A Message from the County Executive: Doing Our Part to Reduce Impacts of Used Vehicle Shortages

Posted on October 3, 2022 at 3:51 PM by County Executive

In most settings, and especially in our economic climate, $810,000 is a large sum of money. And while those extra funds would certainly benefit our tax pools for Road & Bridge and Dispatch & Alarm, the nearly 30 percent year-over-year increase of vehicle personal property tax values is quite literally out of the control of our taxpayers. It is, however, in the control of St. Charles County Government to set its 2022 tax rates, and we have worked to help alleviate this burden by keeping property tax revenues on vehicles the same as 2021, and keep $810,000 in the collective pockets of the public.

Anyone who has purchased, sold, or considered purchased or selling, a motor vehicle in this past year knows the value of existing vehicles has greatly increased, as a shortage of new cars available has caused a dramatic change in the market. With the increase of trade-in values reflected in the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide, the County Assessor is required by state statute to value and assess motor vehicles based on those values, which, as previously mentioned, saw a sharp rise of nearly 30 percent on average. 

In reality, yes, $810,000 is a large sum of money, but that only reflects the additional amount of taxes that would have been collected by our County Government. That means the rest of the line items on your tax bill—school districts, fire districts, municipalities, and other political subdivisions—still may see a dramatic increase from 2021. While we have encouraged these entities to proceed as we have, if they choose not to, the windfall will result in an additional $24 million tax burden on our county residents. 

What we did for the Road & Bridge and Dispatch & Alarm taxes is a small thing, but we did everything our powers allow to assist other jurisdictions in rectifying this overarching problem. It goes without saying: Inflation and shortages take a toll on our economy, but identifying where we can avoid additional burden on taxpayers is part of our responsibility. I hope our neighboring taxing subdivisions agree, and I hope our residents and businesses find this as a relief in this challenging time.

In all probability, this same dilemma will resurface in 2023. Used car prices have not retreated and the vehicle values used for your 2023 personal property tax bills will be determined by the October 2022 NADA Guide. As we saw this year, relying on public jurisdictions to do the right thing for their constituents may be wishful thinking. St. Charles County is the only jurisdiction we know of that voluntarily rolled its revenues back to eliminate the effect of inflation on motor vehicles. The ultimate remedy to this problem can be provided by our State Legislature during the 2023 Legislative Session. We do not in any way support the total elimination of personal property tax as some in Jefferson City attempted during the last session. To do so would be harmful to the essential services provided by all taxing jurisdictions. The legislature needs to revise current law with a more equitable method of vehicle valuation that eliminates the inflation-based tax hike residents will see this year and next year if the Legislature fails to act.