JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri lawmaker wants to recruit more law enforcement officers to the state by eliminating state income taxes for officers but, in turn, could cost the state millions.
There are currently around 14,000 law enforcement officers in Missouri. Rep. David Gregory (R-St. Louis) proposed legislation for this upcoming session for all officers to be excluded from paying state income taxes up to $100,000.
“One of the most important things in Missouri is to have safe streets, safe places to live with good, safe police officers and that’s what this bill accomplishes,” Gregory said.
Gregory said he filed House Bill 272 in hopes of helping recruitment.
“Basically, police officers in the state of Missouri will not pay state income tax,” Gregory said. “They will still have to pay federal, but they won’t have to pay state income tax.”
According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, individuals paid 5.4 percent in 2019 for their income tax in Missouri if they made over $8,424. Executive Director of St. Louis County Police Association Joe Patterson said officers in Missouri get paid between $15 to $30 an hour depending on where they work.
“We have to do everything we can to make sure we have the best police officers with the most training and the most focus when they are policing our streets,” Gregory said. “How do we do that? We incentivize the best police officers to stay in Missouri and we attract better police officers to the state of Missouri.”
But this proposed measure could cost the state of Missouri more than $30 million.
“What I do think the only obstacle will be in the fiscal note, is where do we cut if you’re going to spend $35 million or more on police income tax cuts, where do we get that money from?”
Gregory said this legislation would cost less than 1 percent of the state’s $30 billion budget.
“We are in an unprecedented time in multiple ways; one of which is law enforcement,” Gregory said. “Law enforcement does not have the same support it always has.”
Patterson said in a statement:
“Recruitment efforts with law enforcement in the state are becoming more difficult. Rep. Gregory’s bill to eliminate state income tax for law enforcement officers, incentivizes new recruits to join the force.”
Gregory said he believes this is a bipartisan issue as other lawmakers plan to discuss reform in the upcoming session.
“I know there’s some push for police reform to really drag some change or additional training which is stressful for officers,” Gregory said. “Why not roll this in and say, ‘Hey, let’s recruit the best officers to go through the reform that everyone wants to see?'”
If HB 272 passes, it would be a 25 percent-progressive deduction over four years, starting in 2022. Gregory said it makes it easier on the state budget that way. This means by 2025, all law enforcement officers would be eliminated from paying state income taxes up to $100,000.
The session starts Jan. 6