JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) __ Businesses destroyed by a deadly tornado in Joplin remain on property tax rolls as if their buildings were standing and their cash registers were ringing, and a southwestern Missouri lawmaker is hoping some property tax relief could be considered for firms that are unable to bring in revenue because of the damage from the powerful storm.

At issue is how Missouri handles property taxes. In many counties, Jan. 1, is the key date for determining the value of property and the ability to tax it. However, some counties have
adopted ordinances that allow new residential properties to be added to the tax rolls when they are occupied in the middle of the year and that permit homes to be removed from tax rolls when destroyed by natural disasters and therefore made uninhabitable. The property tax polices affect residential property and not businesses.

In other words, the owner of a house that cannot be occupied mid-year because it has been so badly damaged would pay property tax for the land over the entire year but would not owe property taxes on the structure after it was destroyed. The distinction between homes and business has gotten attention because Jasper County, which is home to Joplin, has adopted the
ordinance that allows uninhabitable residences to be removed from the tax roll.

A tornado that struck May 22 killed 160 people and damaged or destroyed about 8,000 homes and businesses in the Joplin area. The powerful tornado cut a path several miles long and struck residential neighborhoods and many businesses in the southwestern Missouri city.

State Rep. Bill White said several people who owned commercial property in Joplin have told him that the property tax situation has added to their financial hardship because the tax is owed for damaged or destroyed buildings that are not generating revenue right now. White, R-Joplin, said it makes sense for businesses to be eligible for treatment similar to that for residential property.

Copyright The Associated Press


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