JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new law signed into effect by Gov. Mike Parson would incentivize people and corporations to make financial contributions to organizations that provide funds to meet the health, hunger, and hygiene needs of schoolchildren.
HB 1288, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler, modifies and extends the sunset for the Champion for Children Tax Credit, while also pushing back the deadlines and raising the cap on Maternity Homes and Pregnancy Resource Centers Tax Credits. It also extends and expands the Donated Food Tax Credit and creates the Diaper Bank Tax Credit.
An amendment added to the bill by Rep. Kathy Swan creates the Schoolchildren Health, Hunger and Hygiene Tax Credit, which allows taxpayers to receive a credit against their taxes in an amount equal to 50 percent of the amount of the eligible donation.
The program will be administered like the state’s other benevolent tax credit programs, such as those benefiting maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers. Once a donation is received, the provider organization will submit an application on behalf of the taxpayer to the Missouri Department of Social Services for approval of a tax credit.
“This can greatly benefit not only schoolchildren in Cape Girardeau, but throughout the state,” Swan said in a statement. “Children who struggle with not having enough to eat, with cleanliness, or with illness are distracted by those issues and unable to concentrate on reading, math or science. Removing these barriers can help them learn and be successful in school.”
The provisions of that program would sunset after six years.
The legislation also removes the expiration date from the tax credit for donations to maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers, organizations often associated with religiously affiliated groups that provide temporary housing for pregnant people, and increases the caps from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
Critics of this provision have cried out against the legislation, saying that tax breaks for the crisis pregnancy centers is just another attack by conservatives looking to push their ideological agenda against abortion.
Those opponents say the pregnancy centers are “fake clinics” that provide anti-choice propaganda in order to discourage people from seeking abortions.
As for the other provisions, the newly-created Diaper Bank Tax Credit will authorize a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the donation made (it requires that at least $100 be donated to the diaper bank to take effect.) The nonrefundable credit is limited to a maximum of $50,000 per taxpayer each year, with a cumulative cap annually at $500,000 per year.
The bill will become law on August 28, 2018.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.