Why St. Louisans pay taxes directly to Gregory F.X. Daly, not the city revenue department
A reader came to our Curious Louis series wanting to know: Why do 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 longtime collector of revenue for St. Louis, receives the questions so frequently that his office has set up a page on the department's websitethat addresses it.
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.
How does the practice compare to other cities?
How individuals pay their taxes depends on the county they reside in.
In St. Charles County, McBride said taxpayers are instructed to make checks payable to "Michelle D. McBride" or St. Charles County Collector — "whichever they are most comfortable with.”
McBride, a 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 “Collector of Revenue,” not to any specific individual. The same goes for Warren County, west of St. Charles County.
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