Contact 2: St. Louis County resident questions penalties and fees for late tax bill

Contact 2

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Steve Radinsky’s helped St. Louis consumers as a Contact 2 volunteer for more than 20 years. This case impacts him personally and professionally. He’s one of nearly 5,000 St. Louis County residents to be charged late fees and interest on their 2020 real estate taxes.

“It’s the pandemic’s fault, but I think all of us are getting a penalty and interest that was not our fault,” Radinsky said.

On Dec. 27, 2020, he says he dropped off his real estate tax check at the Clayton Post Office. He knew it had to be postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

“It never even crossed my mind that it wouldn’t be postmarked that day or even the day after,” Radinsky said.

That was until early March. The Radinskys received a bill from the St. Louis County Collector of Revenue. It said they owed $714 in late penalties and interest. He learned the check he mailed Dec. 27, 2020 wasn’t postmarked until Jan. 2, 2021.

“It really is the post office’s fault, but they were dealing in troubled times with a pandemic,” Radinsky said.

The St. Louis Postmaster took responsibility for the late postmark, apologized, and offered to give an explanation to the Collector of Revenue. Unfortunately for Radinsky, state statutes do not provide a simple fix.

“They have a statute that says if the county was at fault in doing this, they could give me an appeal and they could refund my money. But because the federal government is at fault, they can’t do it,” Radinsky said.

Missouri State Senator Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis County) is one of several lawmakers and officials we contacted about this issue.

“They are subject to a penalty and interest that I don’t believe they should be subject to. What we’re trying to do is find a vehicle that will allow for an amendment that is related to this topic that will put off the return of this money until a year from now against what is coming due next year for personal property taxes,” Schupp said. “So that the taxpayer will get his or her money back and so that the counties have time to notify those taxing districts that they will be short of that amount of money next year.”

With the legislative session ending next week, Schupp hopes her amendment to House Bill 271 will help solve this problem for citizens like Steve Radinsky.

“I think that everybody here in the legislature, regardless of what we see in terms of different policies, understand that we don’t want our taxpayers to be assessed something unfairly,” Schupp said.

Senator Schupp is urging anyone impacted by penalties and interest on their real estate taxes due to a late postmark to contact their state representative. We’ll of course let you know the fate of her amendment as it passes through the Missouri Legislature.

“It’s not just me. I think it’s probably hundreds or possibly thousands of other people are out there,” Radinsky said.

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