St. Louis County Tax Bill Insert Would Give Mail-In Paper Receipt Option | Policy

CLAYTON — St. Louis County taxpayers may receive an additional insert with their property and estate tax bills asking if they want a paper receipt mailed to them.

The insert would also include instructions for printing receipts at home or requesting hard copies from the county at a later date.

The proposal is a response to complaints late last year about the county’s decision to stop automatically sending paper receipts for 2021 tax bills, produce paper copies only upon request, and encourage residents to pay online and print receipts at home for free.

The bills included a yellow slip notifying residents of the change, but some residents questioned the move and said they had trouble getting a hard copy.

Councilman Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, introduced a bill that would have required the county to add a checkbox to every tax bill asking residents if they want a paper receipt.

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Fitch said he heard of older adults and residents without easy access to a computer or called the county to request a paper receipt but did not receive one.

“If someone has paid the county thousands of dollars and they want their receipt, they should be able to ask for one,” he said.

But the county’s Department of Revenue said the checkbox would have reduced time and cost savings since the decision to stop sending a paper receipt to every taxpayer last year.

Erica Savage, acting director of the Department of Revenue, called on Fitch to reconsider, writing a four-page letter last month outlining the benefits of last year’s decision, including faster processing times and the environmental benefits of using less paper.

The county saved $56,000 by hiring fewer part-time workers to process bills, Savage said. And instead of processing and sending paper receipts, the department spent more time chasing overdue tax payments, collecting about $2 million, or 2.1%, more than in 2020.

Ultimately, less than 2% of taxpayers ultimately requested a hard copy in the mail, Savage said. The ministry responded to 8,562 requests for paper receipts out of a total of 930,287 tax bills it processed last year. The number does not include homeowners who pay their property taxes through their mortgage agent.

But one of Savage’s main concerns was that the county’s tax bills for 2022 had already been designed.

An overhaul would have cost extra money and could have required the county to revise an ongoing contract with a printing company and delay tax bills by weeks, she said. The former printer severed ties with the county last year amid a dispute over late-sent tax bills.

Any small change would require a major overhaul because tax bills need to be formatted correctly to be read by electronic scanners, Savage said.

“The Department of Revenue just did the tax bill overhaul, and it took months to get it fully aligned,” she said.

Instead, Savage on Friday proposed the county add an insert with tax bills that residents could send back with checks to get a paper receipt. People paying online or over the phone would get step-by-step instructions on how to get a hard copy if they want one. County spokesman Doug Moore said the department was designing the insert.

Fitch said he was fine with the idea but would ask the St. Louis County Senior Citizens Commission for comments on the paper slip before withdrawing his bill. The slip, he said, should make it “very clear” to taxpayers “how they can get their paper receipt”.

Personal property declarations for 2022 are due by June 30.

Savage said the county stopped automatically sending paper receipts largely because the Missouri Department of Revenue no longer requires paper receipts to obtain or renew vehicle license plates. Local licensing offices accept digital copies, photocopies and faxes of property tax receipts.

And St. Louis County is one of 71 counties in Missouri where residents can renew their license plates online, as the counties provide DMV electronic proof of property tax filings.

Tax collectors in the city of St. Louis and St. Charles County said Friday they would continue to send paper receipts to all taxpayers.

St. Louis County tax receipts can be printed at: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/revenue/print-tax-receipts/. The webpage also includes an online portal where taxpayers can view their bills, pay their personal taxes, and get instructions for requesting a paper receipt by mail. Receipts for tax bills paid online through the county’s website will be available two days later.

Taxpayers can also get a paper copy of their receipt for $1 at one of three locations:

• County headquarters in the Lawrence K. Roos Building at 41 South Central Avenue in Clayton.

• The satellite office at 715 Northwest Plaza Drive in St. Ann.

• Satellite office at 4546 Lemay Ferry Road in unincorporated South St. Louis County.