Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missouri prepares to end tax credit for elderly and disabled

Missouri prepares to end tax credit for elderly and disabled

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The Associated Press is reporting that Missouri legislators are about to repeal a $750 state tax credit that has helped over 100,000 disabled and elderly residents who live in rental housing.

According to the AP, "The move could save the state $855 million over 15 years, and some lawmakers want to redirect a portion of that money to new tax breaks intended to lure Chinese cargo planes to the St. Louis airport and more businesses to Missouri."

Although opposed by advocates for the poor and elderly, the repeal is expected to pass in a special session that starts this week. It would be "the single largest budgetary savings being proposed to offset the cost of the new business incentives."

Even a representative of the Missouri AFL-CIO supports the plan, arguing that "while we're not very happy with the elimination of some provisions that help people in need, we've got to get our people to work if we're ever going to have enough money in the state coffers again to support human need issues."

When the Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission originally recommended an end to the tax credit for renters -- though not for homeowners -- the state's Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, opposed the recommendation and described the credit as "an important consumer protection."

Now, however, he says he will support the change if an equivalent amount of money is used to create a fund earmarked for senior citizen programs. That idea is being received with cynicism by many Missourians, who believe the fund would simplyend up being used to offset cuts elsewhere.

"When one chicken plucks a feather out of another chicken, all the other chickens do too until there's nothing left of the chicken," one elderly renter told the AP. "And that's just what these lawmakers are doing, they're taking one feather off at a time until the elderly and disabled have nothing. And there's just no need of it, absolutely no need of it."

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