JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri residents with delinquent taxes could pay them back without facing penalties or interest under a proposal that the House sent to Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday.
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The Legislature has relied on the additional $60 million in general revenue the tax amnesty measure is projected to bring in next fiscal year while writing the budget, but the money would be earmarked for an expansion of dental care for adults on Medicaid. Supporters said even with that restriction added by the Senate the measure had to move forward.
"We do have this in the budget," said House Budget Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. "We need to get this to the governor so the budget is balanced."
The earmark for dental care for Medicaid was inserted by Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, as part of an agreement not to filibuster the bill.
Schaaf opposes the amnesty period because he said it gives an unfair advantage to some delinquent taxpayers. However, he supports the dental program and has condemned Nixon, a Democrat, for restricting money for that program this fiscal year.
Some House members criticized the idea of reserving the tax amnesty funds for a single program before passing it 150-4. Democratic Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, of Kansas City, said he would vote for the measure but that Schaaf had "hijacked" the legislative process by using the threat of a filibuster to add his amendment.
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Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said the Legislature was providing dental benefits through Medicaid for the second year in a row by passing the tax amnesty measure.
"For all the discussion about our opposition to expansion of Medicaid, we're still taking steps to improve the lives of Missourians. This is a positive step," he said.
To qualify for the amnesty period, delinquent taxpayers would need to pay between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 and comply with state tax laws for eight years. The measure applies sales, use, corporate and individual income tax collected by the Department of Revenue.
Although the measure would provide about $60 million in additional general revenue for fiscal year 2016, an analysis by legislative staff states the net benefit with future years included would be closer to $20 million because the rest would have been recovered by the state eventually.
Tax amnesty bill is HB 384.
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