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Missouri Prisoner of War Property Tax Exemption, Amendment 2 (2010)

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Missouri Constitution
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Missouri Prisoner of War Property Tax Exemption, Amendment 2 appeared on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved.

The measure called for a property tax exemption for disabled prisoners of war.[1][2][3]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Amendment 2 (Prisoner of War Tax Exemption)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,227,297 65.8%
No639,06534.2%

Official results via Missouri Secretary of State

Text of measure

Title

According to the Missouri Secretary of State the official ballot title read as follows:[4]

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require that all real property used as a homestead by Missouri citizens who are former prisoners of war and have a total service-connected disability be exempt from property taxes?
The number of qualified former prisoners of war and the amount of each exemption are unknown, however, because the number who meet the qualifications is expected to be small, the cost to local governmental entities should be minimal. Revenue to the state blind pension fund may be reduced by $1,200.

Fair Ballot Language:

A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to exempt from property taxes all real property used as a homestead by any Missouri citizen who is a former prisoner of war with a total service-connected disability.

A "no" vote will not add this exemption to the Missouri Constitution.

If passed, this measure will decrease property taxes for qualified citizens.

Constitutional changes

See also: Missouri Amendment 2 (2010), constitutional text changes

Amendment 2 repealed Section 6 of Article X of the Missouri Constitution and added a new section.[5] The proposed changes can be read here.

Support

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal. "This is about the welfare of those who sacrificed their livelihoods on behalf of this country," she said.[6] According to Chappelle-Nadal in 2007 and 2009 the proposal was unanimously approved by the Ways and Means Committee but only successfully passed in both the House and Senate in 2009. "We would want to, in the ideal world, be able to include other veterans and other POWs in the same grouping. However, because of the budget that we’re facing in this climate, we had to limit it as much as possible. I’m very happy that we’re going to be able to give the opportunity to former prisoners of war. Many of them are older, wiser. They served in the second world war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War. There are about three or four Iraq veterans who fit the description," she said.[7]

"They keep putting it off, and these guys are dying off like crazy. We’re trying to get it through before they all die...," said Ed Slater, a veteran who had made annual trips to the state capital in support of the issue.[6]

Other supporters included, the Missouri Family Network and Rep. Ed Emery.[7]

Opposition

Some questioned whether the proposed tax exemption duplicated an existing tax credit. The property-tax credit at the time of the election reimbursed Missourians 65 and older and totally disabled individuals for up to $1,100 in taxes. The credit was only available for individuals with income below $30,000 and couples reporting less than $34,000.[6]

In addition to questions raised about the existing tax credit, some questioned if this measure would drive up lies about military service. Mary Schantag, founder of the POW Network, said, "Impersonation, exaggerated claims and false claims are an epidemic. It’s a huge problem, and this is one more step toward that."[6]

Other opponents included the Missouri Citizens for Tax Justice. Rea Kleeman, MTJ interim chair, said, "...one of MTJ’s organizational principles is that all citizens should contribute to the cost of essential public services through a system of taxation based on ability to pay. Carving out exemptions based on a person’s history rather than on his or her income level is not sensible tax policy."[7]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Missouri ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch supported Amendment 2. "Former POWs deserve our thanks. But a better way to say thanks would be a federal income tax credit. Their sacrifice was for the United States, after all, not their county governments. Still, we can’t bring ourselves to recommend a no vote. Vote Yes on Amendment 2, and be prepared for similar pitches from other worthy groups," said the editorial board.[8]
  • The Hannibal Courier-Post supported Amendment 2. "The Missouri Veterans Commission estimates there are fewer than 100 former POWs living in the state who would qualify. The cost of the exemption to local governments would be more than $100,000 a year. Still, giving a bit of a break to people who sacrificed the best part of their lives in some foreign lockup for their country seems like the least we could do," said the editorial board.[9]

Opposition

  • The Kansas City Star was opposed to Amendment 2. In an editorial, the board said, "Disabled prisoners of war are deserving of honor. But changing property tax laws isn’t the way to do it." They outlined three main reasons why the measure should be rejected: those eligible are already eligible for a tax credit that reimburses those 65 and older or totally disabled individuals for up to $1,100 taxes owed on their houses; the tax exemption would be burdensome for local revenue offices; and the fairness, the editorial board said, of singling out one group is questionable.[10]

Split

  • The Southeast Missourian said, "Recommendation: Split. We believe it is dangerous to begin crafting exemptions from taxes according to nonfinancial status. That said, if a group is worthy of such exemption, this is it."[11]

Path to the ballot

See also: Missouri legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

In order to qualify for the ballot, proposed amendments were required to be approved by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Missouri General Assembly.

See also

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