A Strong, Pro-Growth Tax Bill
In the high-stakes arena of legislating, the Missouri Senate and House are going heads up. In March, the Senate drew a pair of fives with Senate Bill 26, its version of substantive tax reform. It is a decent hand, but the House just one-upped the upper chamber.
House Bill 253, “The Broad-Based Tax Relief Act of 2013,” would eventually create a 50 percent deduction for pass-through entity income and cut the corporate income tax rate in half. Moreover, HB 253 ends up costing less in revenue. According to the Committee on Legislative Research-Oversight Division, the estimated revenue shortfall that would occur once HB 253 is fully implemented comes to $364 million. That is less than the $438 million in lost revenue that the state expects to occur if SB 26 were to be fully implemented.
I think HB 253 is a superior tax proposal to SB 26. Importantly, HB 253 cuts more in the areas that will produce the biggest immediate and long-term growth benefits. For its part, SB 26 creates a 50 percent deduction for pass-through income and reduces both the corporate income tax by .75 percentage points and the individual income tax rate by two-thirds of a percentage point over five years.
Business income, i.e., profits, are the returns to capital owners after labor is paid. There is a strong academic basis for believing that taxes on capital, which business income is, are among the most economically damaging a taxing entity can impose. It is good that both SB 26 and HB 253 seek to enact cuts in these taxes. However, from a growth perspective, bigger business income tax cuts would better enhance the returns to capital owners and should be preferred to considerably smaller across-the-board cuts. HB 253 does this.
If legislators want to pursue a more ambitious proposal, they could also leverage the state’s tax credit liabilities against the tax that is left over after HB 253’s cuts. Combining HB 253 with the provisions of SB 120, which passed the Senate in March, the state could set out a course to enact further reductions in business income tax rates. Something to consider.