House passes retirement benefits tax cuts
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House passes retirement benefits tax cuts

Date: February 22, 2007
By: Cliff Ainsworth
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 444

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House passed a bill to cut taxes on retirement benefits Thursday, but the plan faces being scaled down as it moves to the Senate.

The bill, which is sponsored by Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, originally only cut Social Security taxes.  But the final version approved by the chamber Thursday would also cut taxes on pensions for those who do not participate in Social Security as individual retirement capital gains up to $6,000.

Jetton acknowledged that the bill would likely be revised in conference committee to remove some of the extra cuts.

"We'll have to look at stripping things off so this is fiscally responsible," Jetton said after noting that the plan's total cuts are estimated at $285 million.  The original version would have cut $130 million in Social Security taxes.

Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, said the bill's cuts would likely be decreased in the Senate.

"We're going to look at the bill and debate it," Shields said. "But it probably won't come out of the Senate at $285 million."

The bill passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 129-28, but some Democrats questioned whether the state's budget surplus should be used for tax cuts rather than restoring Medicaid coverage to Missourians who lost it two years ago.

"This bill is an empty promise for every one of those under those (Medicaid) cuts," said Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-St. Louis County.  "Everything we do has a cost."

Rep. J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, was concerned that the cuts would result in Missourians not being able to deduct the taxes they now pay on retirement benefits from their Federal income tax.  He said that eliminating those deductions would mean Missouri would lose money to the federal government.

"It's a windfall for the federal government, a loss for the state," Kuessner said.