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    Entries in Missouri (5)


    Missouri Passes Nation's First-Ever Ban on Services Sales Taxes

    As states increasingly try to tax services like Netflix and yoga, Missouri voters have decided to keep that from ever happening. How that will impact consumers is unclear.
    BY  NOVEMBER 9, 2016

    As more governments look to expand their sales tax to services like Netflix and yoga, Missouri has become the first state to pass a ban on doing so.

    With nearly all precincts reporting, voters approved the ban Tuesday 58 percent to 42 percent, persuaded by the argument that the measure was designed to protect the state's middle class and lower income earners.

    The sales tax is generally seen by economists as regressive, meaning it places a bigger burden on low-income families because it takes a bigger chunk of change from their income.

    “The time was right to make a stand," said Scott Charton, a spokesperson for the ballot measure's backers. "This is a victory for Missouri’s hard-working taxpayers and their families."

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    Would Eliminating Taxes on Services Help or Hurt the Poor?

    As states increasingly look to tax services, Missouri voters can be the first to keep that from ever happening. How that would impact consumers is unclear.
    BY  AUGUST 31, 2016

    States have struggled to keep up the same revenue growth as they experienced before the recession. One big reason is that their earnings from sales taxes are declining. That's because these days, consumers are spending far more on services -- most of which aren’t taxed -- than goods, which are.

    To remedy the situation, lawmakers have tried and had varying degrees of success expanding the sales tax to services. Massachusetts passed a tax on the cloud and quickly repealed it after the tech industry complained. Pennsylvania enacted the so-called "Netflix tax" on streaming video services. Washington, D.C., added a long list of services to be taxed: yoga, tanning and bowling, to name a few.

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    The Fight for Jobs Intensifies Between Kansas and Missouri

    Nowhere are tax incentives more complicated -- and some say pointless -- than in Kansas City.
    BY  MAY 12, 2016

    In major metropolitan areas, using tax incentives to lure businesses from one part of the region to another can sometimes seem like a big family fight. In the Washington, D.C., area, for instance, several jurisdictions are vying to become the new headquarters of the FBI, which is currently located in the district. If the FBI moves outside of D.C., Maryland or Virginia can claim "new" jobs. But the net gain to the metro area is negligible, save the temporary work created by new construction.

    In nowhere does this chess match seem more futile than in Kansas City, which sits in both Kansas and Missouri. The two states have long competed with each other to woo businesses across the state line. AMC Theaters, Applebee's and JP Morgan Retirement are just a few businesses that have crossed the border in recent times. So much money is involved that the tax incentives battle has been dubbed the Kansas City Border War.

    But recently there's been a concerted effort to call a cease fire. In 2014, the Missouri General Assembly passed a bill that effectively ended the state's tax incentive program in Kansas City after a group of 17 businesses in the two-state region lobbied both governors for it. For the law to go into effect, though, Kansas has to approve a similar bill. The state has until Aug. 28 to do so; otherwise, the "deal" is dead.

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    Pension Envy: Lessons From Well-Managed Plans

    Bad press has blurred the fact that not all public pension plans are underfunded and overly generous.
    BY  APRIL 28, 2016

    Public pension plans have gotten a lot of bad PR in recent years. And while some of that bad press is certainly warranted, it's wrong to assume they're all a failure. In fact, there are many plans across the country that are humming along fine.

    Case in point: Missouri's Local Government Employees Retirement System, or LAGERS. Last year, a reporter for the Springfield News-Leader wanted to know why the city's pension plan was just 80 percent funded -- far below the fund's aggregate 94 percent funding level. LAGERS has the ability to compel payments from cities, so the reporter, Amos Bridges, wondered if the fund was letting Springfield off the hook.

    As it turned out, LAGERS wasn't. The current funding level only reflected active employees; It was closer to 90 percent when incorporating retirees. Additionally, LAGERS had Springfield on a payment plan to get back to a fully funded status.

    "Defeated in my search for a scandal, I had to admit: These LAGERS people seem to know what they're doing," Bridges wrote.

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    College Savings Accounts Aren’t Just About the Money

    Missouri's treasurer says 529 programs are only one piece of the college puzzle.
    BY  APRIL 14, 2016

    Every summer, staff at the nonprofit Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis spends the majority of their time in painful conversations with low-income families whose oldest child has been accepted to a college they can’t afford. The families bring their financial aid offers to these meetings with the hopes that the foundation will help them find a way to make it work.

    But what they often learn, says Faith Sandler, the foundation’s executive director, is that paying back the loan would strain them to the breaking point. It’s crushing news. The Scholarship Foundation, she says, can’t “award to a needy student if that’s the kind of situation we’re contributing to. It’s a really difficult position for us to be in.”

    That’s why the foundation jumped at a chance to partner with Missouri when it began offering matching grants in 2011 to lower-income families that start an account in MOST, the state's 529 college savings plan. The foundation set up and began contributing money to savings accounts for needy eighth graders. The idea wasn’t necessarily to significantly offset the cost of college for those kids, but was to set their families’ expectations and get them to start planning. “I think what we really want to do is to try and have smarter conversations earlier so we can avoid those horrible moments,” Sandler says.

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