To the Editor:
“For all taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, for each birth for which a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth has been issued under section 193.165, a taxpayer may claim the exemption under subsection 1 of this section only in the taxable year in which the stillbirth occurred, if the child otherwise would have been a member of the taxpayer’s household.”
I have been trying to add this one sentence to the Missouri tax law for the past nine years.
Basically, what it is, if you have a stillbirth you may put the baby down as an extra deduction on your state income tax return. For most of those years, it was hard enough to get one sponsor in the Missouri Legislature. In 2015, we were able to get three bills introduced. Hearings took place for two of the bills and I testified in person for both of them. Over the course of several months, numerous votes were taken and passed. One bill reached the Senate floor and the other reached the House floor.
Each year, as the end of the legislative session approaches, legislators sometimes attach bills as amendments to other pieces of legislation. This is what happened with the stillborn tax exemption language. Senator Emery attached it to House Bill No. 517. Representative Cornejo attached it to Senate Bill No. 115.
Just one week before the legislature adjourned, I heard the words I’ve been waiting for almost a decade to hear. “Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed.” Both chambers passed HB517. The Senate vote was 34-0 and the House vote was 140-11. On July 6, 2015, Gov. Jay Nixon signed it into law. Missouri became only the second state to offer this one time deduction.
In memory of my daughter Sarah Elizabeth, born into Heaven on March 30, 2004. On behalf of my wife, who after being told our baby had no heartbeat, had to endure hours of labor and delivery and went home with empty arms and broken-hearted.
For all the parents who have suffered the tragedy of a stillbirth, all the families who don’t even know yet that this new law will help them in the future, and finally for myself, I want to thank everyone who has helped me over the past nine years with this issue. Thanks especially to St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano, senators Tom Dempsey and Ed Emery, Rep. Robert Cornejo, former Rep. Doug Funderburk and the Knights of Columbus. God Bless all of you. This day could not have happened without your dedication and support.
Alderman Patrick Barclay