House sends tax amnesty to Senate

The Missouri House advanced three key pieces of legislation Thursday, sending the bills to the Senate.

Delinquent Missouri taxpayers would get a chance to pay off their debts without owing penalties or interest under legislation approved by the House.

Taxpayers would need to pay their bills between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 to qualify for the amnesty. They also would need to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years, or they would owe the penalties and interest that have been pardoned.

The Missouri House approved the legislation 154-0 Thursday. It now goes to the state Senate.

Supporters say the measure could bring in as much as $74 million. They say it also offers a clean slate for those who have fallen behind on their taxes.

Meanwhile, legislation capping Missouri’s minimum wage at the federal level also has cleared the Housee.

The bill essentially reverses a measure approved voters in 2006 that adjusts Missouri’s minimum wage for inflation. The House approved it Thursday on a vote of 92-60.

Proponents of the legislation say the economic climate has changed since 2006 because of the recession. They say capping the minimum wage is necessary to help Missouri companies compete with employers in other states

Critics say lawmakers should not reverse a measure backed by the voters. They argue that letting the minimum wage rise with inflation could help Missouri’s economy by giving workers more money to spend.

Under the third measure advanced to the Senate, state businesses would eventually no longer pay a state tax on their assets under legislation approved by the state House.

The legislation would reduce Missouri’s franchise tax rate starting in 2012 and eliminate it in the 2016 tax year. That tax is levied on corporate assets, such as inventory and buildings.

House members voted 106-52 on Thursday to approve the measure.

Supporters say repealing the franchise tax would boost economic development and help Missouri to compete with other states for jobs.

Critics have questioned how the state would offset the lost revenue.

Missouri has gradually reduced the franchise tax rate. In 2009, lawmakers exempted firms with less than $10 million in assets from the tax.

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