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Missouri educators could see tax deduction option next year under senator’s plan

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Encouraged by the progress her bill has already made, Sen. Lauren Arthur is once again fighting to give Missouri educators the opportunity to take advantage of a tax deduction as early as next year. 

Arthur’s SB 583, comparable to legislation she’s championed in previous years, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee this week. The bill would give educators (including those who work in early childhood education fields) the ability to claim up to $500 in tax deductions for unreimbursed expenses. 

State Sen. Lauren Arthur

“It doesn’t surprise me that it has bipartisan support. We all know that there’s a crisis in Missouri as it relates to attracting and keeping teachers in the classroom,” Arthur told The Missouri Times. “Pay has played a big role in that. Even though this isn’t an increase in pay, I think it does signal that Missouri does value teachers and will ease some of the financial burden on teachers.” 

Arthur, a Democrat, has first-hand knowledge of the sacrifice teachers make to ensure classrooms are welcoming and conducive learning environments; before joining the General Assembly, she worked as a middle school teacher. She said she’s spent her own money on supplies and books for students and knows some educators who have spent thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. 

Currently, Missouri teachers are only able to take advantage of the $250 tax deduction at the federal level. About 66,000 Missourians claimed the federal educator expense deduction, according to 2017 IRS data analyzed by the Department of Revenue, the bill’s fiscal note said.

The fiscal note also estimated the net effect on the general revenue fund to be just under $2 million. 

“I know when it comes to tax conversations, that can always get more complicated,” Arthur said. “I expect that if and when my legislation is debated on the Senate floor, many will take that as an opportunity to talk about other tax legislation.” 

Similar legislation has been floated on the House side by Republican Rep. Ann Kelley. HB 1338, however, has not yet been placed on the House’s calendar.