With the 2018 legislative session in full swing, lawmakers continue to discuss and debate numerous ideas and proposals in legislative committees and on the floor of the Missouri Senate. My colleagues and I have introduced more than 450 legislative proposals for consideration during the legislative session. During the course of the 2018 legislative session, these bills and proposals will undergo intense scrutiny as lawmakers decide whether or not these ideas will benefit the state of Missouri. We must do everything we can to ensure that any bill we pass improves the lives of all Missourians and makes our state more attractive in the eyes of businesses and job creators.

This week, lawmakers discussed a proposal intended to reign in one of our state’s tax credit programs. Missouri offers tax credits to developers interested in rehabilitating our state’s historic buildings. While the program has had its share of successes and seen numerous historic buildings returned to glory, unfortunately the state spends more than $140 million a year on this program. Missouri’s historic preservation tax credit program is the largest of its kind in the country and the time has come to reform this tax credit. Senate Bill 590 caps the historic preservation tax credit program at $70 million a year. As lawmakers face tough budget decisions, this is a program we simply cannot afford to fund at its current funding level. In a year where we are seeing funding cuts to higher education, our seniors and others, it is not appropriate to fund a program to the tune of $140 million a year that only sees a 42 cents on the dollar return on investment. In Missouri, lawmakers are required by law to appropriate funding for tax credits first before funding any other state department. Placing a $70 million cap on this program will ensure that it continues to provide interested developers the opportunity to restore some of our state’s beautiful, historic buildings while still reigning in the tax dollars associated with this program. I hope my colleagues and I can come to an agreement on this issue before the end of the 2018 legislative session because I believe it plays an important role in moving our state forward.

The Department of Revenue announced improvements to a program allowing Missourians to track the status of their tax returns. The new feature allows taxpayers to receive automatic updates any time the status of their tax return changes. To enroll in the program, Missourians only need their Social Security number, filing status and their anticipated refund amount or their balance due. The status of an individual’s tax return will be available within 48 hours of filing electronically or four weeks after mailing a paper return. Through the program, DOR hopes to create a user-friendly tool, allowing individuals to track their return through a simple, transparent process. To access the Missouri Return Inquiry System and sign up for automatic text and email alerts, please visit DOR’s website.