Nixon signs tax-credit bill, food pantries celebrate

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Gov. Jay Nixon signs copies of legislation reinstating tax credits for donations to food pantries, child advocacy centers and pregnancy resources centers, while visiting the Southeast Missouri Food Bank on Friday, March 29, 2013 in Cape Girardeau. Behind him are state Rep. Kathy Swan, left, Tim Powderly, the food bank's chairman of the board, and Karen Green, food bank executive director. (Fred Lynch)

Gov. Jay Nixon was in Cape Girardeau on Friday to sign legislation that authorizes tax breaks for some charitable donations.

The signing of Senate Bill 20, held at the Southeast Missouri Food Bank on Nash Road, will reinstate tax credits for donations to food pantries, child-advocacy centers and pregnancy-resource centers.

"I'm pleased that the Legislature got this done early in the session," Nixon said. "The tax credits we are reinstating are extremely important."

Karen Green, executive director of the Southeast Missouri Food Bank, explains the operation of the facility to Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday, March 29, 2013 in Cape Girardeau. Behind them are Tim Powderly, the food bank's chairman of the board, and state Rep. Kathy Swan. While there, Nixon signed copies of legislation reinstating tax credits for donations to food pantries, child advocacy centers and pregnancy resources centers. (Fred Lynch)

Nixon said the food-pantry tax credits, which expired in 2011, will serve as leverage for organizations such as the Southeast Missouri Food Bank to receive more private donations.

"We want to encourage and reward generosity," he said. "These tax credits will help organizations raise more dollars to help our most vulnerable citizens. They are fiscally responsible and have bipartisan support."

Under the legislation, the tax credit is worth half the value of the contribution. However, the credit will apply only to gifts of $2,000 or less.

"Anything more than $2,000 will qualify as a charitable deduction and not for a tax credit," said Karen Green, executive director of the Southeast Missouri Food Bank.

Green said the food bank, which partners with 170 food pantries in 16 Southeast Missouri counties to feed the hungry, stands to benefit from the newly signed legislation. She said there are 64,000 people in Southeast Missouri who are "food insecure," but the food bank and its partners have been able to help only about 55,000 of them.

"With the tax breaks, we hope we'll be able to reach the other 9,000," Green said. "I believe the breaks will improve the lives of thousands of Missouri citizens."

Green said she wouldn't speculate as to how many donations the food bank lost when the tax credits expired in 2011. But Glenn Koenen, chairman of the Hunger Task Force of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, said a food pantry in St. Louis lost more than $30,000.

"It hurt," Koenen said. "It was money that would have gone toward food purchases. We hope now that the tax breaks have been reinstated, we'll start recovering donations we lost along the way."

Organizations that offer child advocacy and pregnancy resources also had representatives at the signing.

"This is huge for us," said Tammy Gwaltney, president and CEO of Beacon Health Center in Cape Girardeau, which offers advocacy services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

"The tax credits we relied on to help raise money for the center expired in 2012, and I would say that has caused us to lose about $15,000 in donations," Gwaltney said.

Kim Nash, executive director of the Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center in Park Hills, Mo., said her organization serves about 80 families per week with pregnancy resources and parenting services.

"The tax breaks for donating to us expired in 2011," Nash said. "In 2012, we lost about $20,000 in donations."

Nash believes donations will start coming back once people learn of the reinstated tax breaks.

"It's great for our donors to give to a cause they believe in and get the credit for doing it," she said.

State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, said she was pleased that Legislature was able to pass the bill for Nixon's signature.

"There are great needs out there," Swan said, "and the tax breaks can provide a vehicle to help others and to receive a benefit. It's a win-win."

The Southeast Missouri Food Bank on March 10 received a $1 million grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health, a St. Louis-based philanthropic organization. The grant will be used to renovate the food bank's 64,000-square-foot distribution facility in Sikeston, Mo.

Nixon also signed legislation Friday authorizing up to $3 million annually of tax credits for organizations and local governments that host amateur sporting events.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

3920 Nash Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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