Tax Credits: The Annual Thorn in the Side of Lawmakers

One issue that is been a recurring debate topic at the Capitol for numerous past sessions is the issue of tax credits. Missouri currently has 61 tax credit programs that cost the state over $600 million dollars a year in revenue.

The biggest tax credit program is the historic tax credit that is used by developers (mainly in St. Louis and Kansas City) to rehab old buildings and provide for low-income housing. In most recent years the historic tax credit program has annually cost the state about $90-$100 million. The high cost of the program has made it a target for legislators looking for revenue in these tight economic times.

In past years lawmakers have discussed a variety of options on dealing with tax credits including capping the programs, putting tax credits through the appropriations process or even establishing a “sunset” for the programs and letting future lawmakers determine their viability.

In September, Governor Jay Nixon reconvened a blue-ribbon commission of experts created in 2010 to re-evaluate the tax credit program in Missouri and make recommendations for greater efficacy and enhanced return of the state’s investment. The commission’s report is expected by the end of November.

With considerable money on the line, look for the tax credit issue to be another “hot-button” issue in the general assembly.

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