State tax checkoff for military families is promoted

Friday, September 10, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missourians looking to support the troops could donate money toward their family expenses under a proposal promoted Thursday by veterans' advocates that would add a new checkoff box to state income tax forms.

As proposed, contributions to the Missouri Military Family Relief fund could be used to help pay for such things as financial emergencies, medical expenses, education costs or job training for Missouri National Guard or Reserve members who are called to active duty.

A similar tax checkoff program in Illinois has proved popular in its first year.

As of last month, the Illinois military family relief fund had received $196,842 in donations, said Debbie Best, a spokeswoman at the Illinois Department of Revenue. That's more than twice as much money as any of the state's four other new income tax checkoffs and far more than the $100,000 threshold needed in Illinois to ensure a tax checkoff can appear on the next year's forms.

The amount a taxpayer donates is either deducted from the taxpayer's refund or added to the amount due.

In Missouri, a bill by Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis, to create a military family tax checkoff passed the Senate but failed to come to a House vote during the legislative session that ended in May.

On Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, embraced the idea as he opened the first meeting of the Joint Interim Committee on Veterans Affairs. Kinder is chairman of the panel.

Also supporting the concept were Emmett Fairfax, chairman of the Missouri Veterans Commission, and Missouri National Guard Col. John Cairer, who directs civil military relations.

This year's failed version of the military tax checkoff would have authorized the adjutant general to make grants to families of Guard members or reservists who were called to active duty by the president between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2010.

Although the military tax donation bill did not pass this year, Missouri lawmakers did pass a separate bill that added nine new charitable checkoffs on state income tax returns. Under the bill signed into law by Holden, taxpayers will be able to donate money to causes addressing cancer, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease and birth defects.

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