Mo. House Approves Tax Breaks For Businesses

By DAVID A. LIEB

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) â¿¿ A trio of measures that could reduce taxes for some businesses won approval Wednesday in the Missouri House, as lawmakers continued pushing to keep pace with recent tax breaks in Kansas and other neighboring states.

One of the bills would cut income taxes for thousands of corporations in Missouri. The other two measures would target tax breaks at particular high-tech companies that policymakers hope to attract to Missouri. All told, the legislation could reduce Missouri revenues by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Throughout the session, lawmakers have cited recent income tax cuts and aggressive business incentives in Kansas as a reason for Missouri to reciprocate with its own tax breaks. Missouri's western rival again appeared to be a motivating factor in Wednesday's House votes.

"I am tired of hearing about Kansas," said Rep. Vicki Englund, a Democrat from St. Louis County who supported the two new business incentive bills.

The House passed legislation, 126-26, creating a tax credit for so-called "angel investors" in high-tech, startup businesses â¿¿ something that that the Angel Capital Association says already exists in Kansas and about half of all states. The Missouri bill would provide up to $6 million annually of such tax credits beginning in 2014.

The House passed legislation, 128-25, authorizing state and local sales tax breaks for large "data centers" that house computer servers vital to many online businesses. Similar incentives already exist in about a dozen states, including Kansas and many of Missouri's other neighbors. The House plan would waive taxes on the purchase of computers, equipment, materials and utilities used by the data centers.

Both of those incentive bills now go to the Senate, which already has approved the new programs as part of its broader tax policy legislation.

The Republican-led House also gave initial approval Wednesday on a largely partisan voice vote to a bill that would gradually cut the state's corporate income tax rate from the current 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent by 2016. Once fully phased in, the tax cut could reduce Missouri revenues by $123 million annually, according to the University of Missouri's Economic Policy Analysis and Research Center.

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