Who’s Slicing My Pie?
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Business Journal reported:
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that would enhance tax benefits for the state’s higher education savings program.
On Monday, Nixon approved Senate Bill 772, which eliminates a 12-month holding period for contributions made to the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program.
Well, not exactly. This bill may indeed be an effort to promote more savings by Missouri families for their children’s future education, but it doesn’t entirely eliminate the holding period for contributions made into a Missouri 529 savings plan. Instead of providing contributors with more freedom pertaining to the control of their accounts, it allows the Missouri higher education savings program board to establish a “minimum length of time that contributions and earnings must be held by the savings program to qualify” for the state tax exemption. Eliminating the language that sets the minimum length of time at 12 months, but keeping the provision that allows the board to set minimum limits, doesn’t provide contributors with more information.
Proponents of the bill suggested that eliminating the mandate would allow the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program to be more competitive with similar programs in other states. Had the legislation eliminated a minimum holding period altogether, it may have accomplished that goal. In reality, it only muddies the water.
I am all in favor of eliminating government mandates, whether it be in health care, energy, or any other area in which the government attempts to control the market, but the removal of this language does not return the pie-slicer to the marketplace — rather, it keeps control in the hands of the people who cut the pie the first time around.