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Joint House-Senate committee reviewing Missouri tax credits

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers are reviewing tax credits the state gives out to businesses and non-profit groups to see if any need to be changed or scrapped.

The Joint Committee on Tax Policy met Tuesday in Jefferson City to hear from several groups that receive tax breaks in exchange for serving disadvantaged youths, abuse victims, and others with needs.

Pat Dougherty, Senior Director of Advocacy for St. Louis Catholic Charities, said the Youth Opportunities tax credit is helping a lot of needy kids across the St. Louis area.

"I urge you to keep the strength of this program the way it is, not to substantially change it, but even look at any possible expansions, because I know that in our instances the agencies that use our tax credits, they're gone like that," Dougherty said.

State Rep. Mike Sutherland, R-Warrenton, chairs the joint committee. He said he doesn't expect a lot of changes will be made, but also says some credits may be dropped.

So far, the committee hasn't come across any examples of abuse or misuse of tax credit programs.

"There's some non-use, whether or not a tax credit is still getting the outcome that it was intended to get, there may be some question on that in some of the tax credits," Sutherland said.

State Senator Joan Bray, D-St. Louis said tax credit programs need to be examined to see if they are really helping the state.

"Missouri is a low-tax, low-service state...I would prefer that we had the money to appropriate for our priorities, but we don't have the money, so we've done these incentives through tax credits, we're missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars every year by having these tax credit programs," Bray said.

Bray added, though, that she doesn't have a problem with tax credits that help the state.

The Joint Committee on Tax Policy will unveil a list of recommendations next month as to which, if any, tax credits should be changed or dropped.

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