Missouri House backs renewal of charitable tax breaks

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | 2:57 p.m. CST; updated 5:26 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 5, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House advanced a bill Tuesday that would reinstate tax credits for donations to certain charitable organizations.

Tax credits on donations to food pantries, pregnancy resource centers and child crisis nurseries have either expired or will expire during 2013, but the measure given first-round approval on a 153-3 vote would reinstate the credits until 2019.

The legislation needs one more affirmative vote in the House before moving to the Senate. The Senate passed similar legislation last week.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, argued it was important to reinstate these tax credits because they spur private donations to charities, which he said was preferred over state bureaucracy carrying out the same activities.

The tax credits had been allowed to expire because they became tied to an effort to scale back larger economic development incentives. Rep. Kevin Engler said the Legislature "dropped the ball" in not reinstating the programs sooner.

"A lot of these agencies are in desperate needs of funds. ... We should have done this last year," Engler, R-Farmington, said.

The legislation also extends the expiration date on tax credits for the surviving spouse of a slain public service official and for homeowners making their houses more accessible when caring for a person with a disability.

The tax programs combined are projected to cost $3 million annually in forgone state revenue, although the programs could grow to about $8 million annually under their current caps. Donations to included charities that occur after Jan. 1 of this year would still garner a tax credit under the bill.

While the final bill passed overwhelmingly, Democrats raised concerns during debate over the pregnancy resource tax credit. Rep. Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis City, said many of the resource centers don't have a doctor or nurse on staff and don't give viable family planning options.

An effort to remove the pregnancy resource tax credit from the bill failed. The House voted 120-38 to keep that section in the bill.

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