The following questions recently came into Curious Louis from someone who wanted to be anonymous: Why do we (St. Louis residents) pay our personal and real estate taxes directly to Gregory F.X. Daly and not a department? How does that compare to other cities?
Daly, the collector of revenue for St. Louis, receives the questions so frequently that his office has set up a webpage to explain.
Deputy Collector of Revenue Tom Vollmer directed Curious Louis to it.
The statute reads: "If an instrument is payable to an office or to a person described as holding an office, the instrument is payable to the named person, the incumbent of the office, or a successor to the incumbent."
Instrument refers to the taxes paid by residents, Vollmer said.
St. Charles County Collector of Revenue Michelle D. McBride helped further explain.
“The practice of writing the property tax check payable to the collector of revenue’s personal name stems from the personal liability that the individual in the office is subject to by state statute,” she said in an email.
She added, “Many, many years ago, the collector would actually deposit the tax payments into their own personal bank account. From that account, the collector had to pay for labor, supplies, and the tax distributions to the political subdivisions.”
McBride said that today the collector’s account is a county asset, but that liability still remains with the collector. Therefore, the practice of writing checks directly to the office holder has remained.
When asked to whom St. Louis residents would pay their property and real estate taxes if the collector of revenue stepped down or left office, Vollmer said the check would be written to the person the governor appointed to the position.
In answering the second question, how individuals pay their taxes depends on the county they reside in.
In St. Charles County, McBride said taxpayers are instructed to “make check(s) payable to Michelle D. McBride, St. Charles County Collector — either … both … whichever they are most comfortable with.”
McBride, an active member of the Missouri County Collector’s Association, said most county collectors follow this same policy.
However, a representative with the St. Louis County Collector of Revenue’s office said residents make their checks payable to the “Collector of Revenue,” not any specific individual. The same goes for Warren County, west of St. Charles County.
Follow Nathan Rubbelke on Twitter: @naterub
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