This Week’s Guest Column from Senator Will Kraus: Ways and Means Committee Working to Help Taxpayers

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While some legislation is already being debated on the Senate floor, the bulk of bills are still being evaluated and amended in committee. As chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I have the opportunity to review the majority of bills affecting Missouri’s tax policies.

My goal when considering bills referred to the Ways and Means Committee is to advance measures that will be beneficial to Missouri businesses and taxpayers. Keeping the tax burden low will help businesses thrive, create jobs and allow individuals to keep more of their income to spend however they choose.

Promoting Job Creation

In order to boost Missouri’s business climate and promote economic growth, the Legislature should pass tax laws that help create jobs. This includes pushing back against the Department of Revenue (DOR) when current laws are reinterpreted to allow the department to gain more tax revenue. The Ways and Means Committee has already voted out several bills aimed at protecting jobs in Missouri.

  • Senate Bill 706 – This bill, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, exempts classes at fitness facilities, gyms and dance studios from state and local sales tax. Historically, sales tax has not been collected on these facilities because of the instructional nature of the classes. Recently, the DOR reinterpreted the statute, significantly hurting locally owned gyms and studios across the state.
  • Senate Bill 799 – This bill, which I sponsored, waives filing fees (required by the secretary of state) for veterans seeking to start a business. This helps honor those who served our country and promotes business growth in our state.
  • Senate Bill 870 – In order to encourage oral health among Missouri’s low-income population, this bill, which I sponsored, allows dentists to deduct income earned from Medicaid patients if the income is placed in a retirement account.

Protecting Taxpayers

 The other aim of the committee is to help protect Missouri taxpayers from DOR overreach and a high tax burden. The committee has also passed several bills protecting individual taxpayers.

  • Senate Bill 798 – Currently, if the DOR sues an individual or business for back taxes and loses, the department is not responsible for the taxpayer’s legal fees. This bill, which I sponsored, requires the DOR to cover attorneys’ fees of both parties in an unsuccessful suit.
  • Senate Bill 814 – Sen. Wayne Wallingford sponsored this bill to exempt all income earned through active military duty from state income tax. Currently, military members who also are Missouri residents are taxed more if they are stationed in Missouri than they would if they were stationed out of state. This bill removes the inconsistency in tax policy for our military members.