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Senate passes bill canceling state income taxes for military in Missouri

Making the state more military friendly March 4, 2016 at 4:55 a.m. | Updated January 1, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

With officials from Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base watching - because they were in the state Capitol for Military Appreciation Day - the Missouri Senate voted 31-0 Thursday on Sen. Wayne Wallingford's bill eliminating income tax obligations for active-duty Missourians stationed in the state.

A retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel of 25 years active duty, including five tours in Vietnam and six tours in Desert Storm, the Cape Girardeau Republican told the Senate Thursday morning "72 percent of our military personnel are stationed outside the state of Missouri, while 28 percent are stationed inside."

But, Wallingford said: "If they're stationed anywhere outside the state of Missouri, their pay is not subject to (state) income tax.

"If they're fortunate enough to be stationed inside the state of Missouri - which a lot of them prefer because they're then close to family and relatives and friends - unfortunately, their income is suddenly taxed."

Passing the change into state law could cost the state more than $12 million in general revenue.

Revenue Department spokeswoman Michelle Gleba said the department "does not typically comment on pending legislation," and when asked if the department had a different estimate of the bill's costs, she referred to the Legislature's "public fiscal note."

Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg - whose district includes Whiteman - co-sponsored the bill.

"I'm certain that you would concur," he asked Wallingford, "that making a piece of legislation like this possible does make Missouri a more military-friendly state."

Wallingford agreed, noting Missouri "always has been considered a friendly military state, (and) we want Missouri always to have that reputation."

Pearce reported Whiteman has about 7,000 employees, and Fort Leonard Wood - one of the state's top 10 employers - has about 36,000 employees.

Another co-sponsor of the bill is Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit, also a veteran and current member of the Missouri National Guard. "The economic impact on this state because of the military is very large," he said. "Millions and millions of dollars are spent here because our bases are here.

"This is an opportunity to recognize their efforts in the state of Missouri."

Kraus abstained from the final vote on the bill, noting, "Although this bill does not directly impact the National Guard, there might be a time when I would be called to active duty, I would prefer to be excused from this vote."

The bill now goes to the House.

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