Picture of Senator Will Kraus MO-8By Senator Will Kraus; December 4, 2014

This week marks the unofficial beginning of the 2015 legislative session with the prefiling of bills in both the Missouri Senate and House. In the Senate, bills are filed by seniority, whereas in the House bills are filed first come, first served. Prefiling in the Senate can help ensure early hearings on bills, as each bill is read and referred to a committee in order. Bills are assigned numbers as they are officially filed.

I have written about the Senate Interim Committee on Tax Administration Practices and our report on changes needed in our tax laws and tax management at the Department of Revenue (DOR). As chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the first three bills I filed relate to those issues.

Senate Bill 18 – Notification

When sales tax laws and policies change — whether by legislation, court ruling or administrative policy — those businesses affected should be notified. DOR admitted in hearings that they do not currently notify businesses of changes. Therefore, I have refiled language which passed last year, but was vetoed by the governor, to require such notification. We added a requirement to notify either by mail or email, and an additional requirement to post changes on the DOR website. We need to end the unfair practice of “notification by audit,” and SB 18 will do just that.

Senate Bill 19 – Single Sales Factor for Service Industries

In 2013, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill that gave multi-state businesses a new option to allocate their revenues. Called the “single sales factor,” it can help keep large businesses selling products and services in Missouri.  Unfortunately, the governor’s DOR has decided the letter of the bill only applies to manufacturers when the Legislature intended it to apply to all businesses. SB 19 makes sure the single sales factor applies to service industry businesses, as well.

Senate Bill 20 – Commercial Laundries

Another item DOR has mishandled is sales taxes on commercial laundries. The idea has always been that sales taxes should only be paid once on an item.  Thus, products used to create another product are not taxed. But DOR has been seeking sales taxes from commercial laundries on the chemicals and supplies they use. SB 20 will specifically exempt sales taxes on the purchase of those supplies, as they should already be.

I will be prefiling several more bills this week related to elections, our military and other tax issues.  Look for a synopsis of each of those bills in next week’s Capitol Report.

Unclaimed Property

Each year, I like to remind constituents about the unclaimed property database managed by the Missouri Treasurer’s office. Unclaimed property can range from forgotten bank accounts, to refunds, to actual physical property somehow left behind. I personally know some people who have found their own names or the names of relatives on the unclaimed property list. Some have claimed a significant amount of money.

Current records show unclaimed property for over 15,000 items related to people who were District 8 residents at their last known address.

To check the unclaimed property list simply visit www.showmemoney.com.  If you have any questions about what you have found you can contact the treasurer’s office at ucp@treasurer.mo.gov or 573-571-0123.  If you have found unclaimed property and are having a problem with claiming it, feel free to call our office at 573-751-1464.

All states have unclaimed property programs.  You can research how to find unclaimed property you or relatives may have in other states by visiting http://www.unclaimed.org.

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Senator Will Kraus serves Eastern Jackson County in the 8th State Senatorial District.