Week of Feb. 26, 2018
Senator Denny Hoskins Discusses Financial Flexibility for Families of Individuals with Disabilities
As lawmakers wrap up the eighth week of the 2018 legislative session, The Missouri Senate perfected and passed numerous bills intended to impact the lives of Missouri’s most vulnerable populations.
Sometimes it’s easy in the middle of a busy session to get distracted with everyday interruptions. We get caught up in the news of the day. We get caught up with conflicts between colleagues. But for us in the Senate, there is not a day that goes by that we aren’t trying to make life better for our constituents. That’s why many of us ran for office, and that’s why many of us spend countless hours debating bills on the floor we believe will ultimately make a difference in our communities.
This week, I was fortunate to sponsor a bill that could mean the difference between someone trapped in a system of infinite government support and someone working towards economic self-sufficiency. Senate Bill 882 gives families the opportunity to make financially sound decisions about the future if an unforeseen medical diagnosis arises.
In 2015, the Legislature passed the MO ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act which ensured individuals with disabilities were able to save money for necessities without jeopardizing their eligibility for Social Security and Medicaid. MO ABLE accounts have the ability to change people’s lives. This week, the Senate approved the measure that will allow an individual with disabilities even more financial flexibility to make fiscally sound decisions.
Senate Bill 882 modifies the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program to allow Missouri 529 account holders to transfer money from their account to a Missouri ABLE account without a tax penalty. Recent changes to the federal tax code now allow families to transfer money between 529 savings accounts without a tax penalty. Those accounts include MO ABLE and educational savings accounts.
When planning for the future, it’s hard to know when an unforeseen medical diagnosis could arise. By allowing the transfer without the tax penalty, a family who receives an unexpected diagnosis that changes their life plan has more options to make smart, financial investments for their child’s educational and medical expenses. This will allow for a future of economic self-sufficiency for Missourians with disabilities and can improve their quality of life.
This bill is just one more step in providing those with disabilities economic independence. It just needs one more vote in the Senate before moving to the House for consideration.
Senate Bill 632 modifies several tax incentives for contributions made to certain benevolent organizations including the Pregnancy Resource Center Tax Credit. The tax credit allows Missouri taxpayers who donate to a pregnancy resource center to qualify for a state tax incentive. This bill will increase that incentive cap to $3.5 million beginning in July of 2019.
The bill also extends the tax credit and increases the cap for maternity homes and provides housing for pregnant minors at no cost. The tax incentives allow these centers to extend and increase their services to pregnant women, children and unborn children in the Show-Me State.
This week, my colleague’s proposal to establish a Missouri Senior Farmers’ Market Nutritional Program was approved in the Missouri Senate. Senate Bill 787 requires the Department of Agriculture to apply for a federal grant to provide low-income seniors with vouchers that may be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs. This program could increase accessibility to fresh food in rural communities in my district where residents have to travel long distances to their local grocery store.
In addition to the Missouri Senate’s legislative work, our office recently received an important note from the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) regarding improvements to a program allowing Missourians to track the status of their tax returns. Under the improved program, Missourians can sign up via e-mail or text to receive automatic alerts regarding the status of their state tax returns through the Missouri Return Inquiry System.
To enroll in the program, Missourians only need their Social Security number, filing status and their anticipated refund amount or their balance due. Information will be available within 48 hours of filing electronically or four weeks after mailing a paper return. So far, more than 14,000 taxpayers have signed up to receive alerts through the system.
To access the Missouri Return Inquiry System and sign up for automatic alerts, please visit www.dor.mo.gov/returnstatus.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.