September 2, 2015

Tax amnesty period begins soon for eligible delinquent Missouri taxpayers

Missouri will offer a tax amnesty period from September 1 to November 30.  Tax amnesty provides individuals and businesses with a one-time opportunity to pay back taxes that were due prior to December 31, 2014 without having to pay interest or penalties.

The Missouri State Capitol (Photo courtesy:  Missouri House Communications.)

The Missouri State Capitol (Photo courtesy: Missouri House Communications.)

Michelle Gleba with the Department of Revenue said eligible Missourians will be notified.

“We’re planning to send out direct mailings to taxpayers and businesses in mid-August,” said Gleba. “They can complete the amnesty-eligible notice, which will show them the amount they owe, as well as the amount they would save in interest and penalties.”

“If you participate in tax amnesty, you must also agree to comply with state tax laws for the next eight years and agree to be excluded from future amnesty programs,” said Gleba.

Approximately $60 million in Missouri taxes have not been collected and Gleba the state’s goal is to collect what’s owed. House bill 384 says the money collected will go toward a tax amnesty fund that will be administered by the State Treasurer.

Tax types eligible include individual or corporate income tax, corporate franchise tax, employer withholding tax, sales tax, consumer’s or vendor’s use tax and fiduciary tax.

City of Joplin receives poor rating in state audit

A poor rating has been given to the city of Joplin in a state audit. The findings date back to when the city was rebuilding after the 2011 Joplin tornado.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

State Auditor Nicole Galloway says a request for proposal for a master developer may have favored developer Wallace Bajjali and a Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce employee who went on to work for Bajjali.

“It was written by a Chamber employee after Wallace Bajjali emailed that Chamber employee a draft. The document appears to favor Wallace Bajjali Development Partners in the plans they pitched in their many meetings with the Chamber and Citizen Advisory Recovery Team (CART) Representatives over the previous few months,” says Galloway.

The report also says a Joplin real estate company bought land that was empty after the 2011 tornado and sold it to the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC) at a big profit.

“It was purchased by Four State Homes for $35,000. About a month later in August 2013, it was sold to the JRC for $165,000,” says Galloway. “That means there was a markup of over 450%.”

Galloway says in all, Four State Homes bought 16 properties for about $963,000 and sold them to the JRC for $1.34 million.

The audit also says it was inappropriate for the city to provide the Joplin School District with money from the Parks/Stormwater Sales Tax Fund and Transportation Sales Tax fund to pay for new high school projects.

The audit also criticized the City paying the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce $335,000 in fiscal year 2014 and says Joplin pays its Chamber more than similar-sized cities.

 

 

 

 

 

Scammers claiming to be from the IRS target victims via direct mail

A consumer alert has been issued by the Internal Revenue Service warning Missourians that scammers are targeting people through direct mail now. Scammers are tricking taxpayers into sending money or asking to verify personal information and the criminals are being aggressive by threatening arrest or demanding to be paid immediately.

irs

Internal Revenue Service

Michael Devine with the IRS says be vigilant if being asked for personal information or to send money.

“If the only contact you normally have with the IRS is sending in your tax return once a year, you should be very suspicious of any unexpected contact,” says Devine. “We are getting better at catching these criminals, but they’re evolving in their tactics and techniques to try and steal your information and money.”

Devine says the letters being sent out look very authentic and if in doubt, he says to double-check by calling the IRS. The IRS will not contact taxpayers via phone, email or social media.

Devine says filing electronically is still the fastest, safest and most accurate way to file taxes.

$70 million Powerball ticket sold in Missouri on Independence Day

Someone in Missouri hit the $70 million Powerball jackpot on Independence Day.  Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon says the state has had good jackpot odds.

missouri lottery

Missouri Lottery

“We love the fact that we have the second most winning numbers of Powerball in the history of the Powerball game,” said Scheve.

She says the prize is also a great bonus for the retailer who sold the ticket.  Reardon says winning retailer stores have historically increased sales by at least 10% following a Powerball jackpot.

“We do always say, as soon as we release the location, all the people are going to go running to that store to buy new tickets because they think lightning is going to strike there. We love that.”

The Missouri Lottery will be giving more than $800,000 of the jackpot prize to elementary, secondary and higher education in the state.

The identity of the winner has not been released.  The winner will become the owner of the ninth largest jackpot prize ever won in Missouri.

Initiative petitions seeking Missouri minimum wage increase cleared for signatures

Three initiative petitions that would ask voters whether to increase Missouri’s minimum wage have been cleared by the Secretary of State’s office for backers to begin gathering signatures.

Lara Granich

Lara Granich

Supporters of the petitions include Missouri Jobs with Justice.  Director Lara Granich says she believes a minimum wage increase is supported by most Missourians.

“The last time voters had a chance to decide about this was in 2006,” said Granich. “At that time, they raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour and put a cost of living adjustment in. Voters passed that by 76% statewide. They passed it in every single county of the state by 16 points or more.”

Granich thinks a gradual increase is good for businesses and the economy.

“I think it’s important to understand that these increases would be phased in gradually over time and really give businesses a chance to make the adjustments they need to make.”

Brian Bunten

Brian Bunten

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce opposes an increase.  Legislative Director Brian Bunten says it would be a mandated increase in the cost to do business in Missouri.

“It places Missouri at a competitive disadvantage to our surrounding states.”

Bunten thinks the proposed increases would cause businesses to have to cut costs. “Some of these workers would be reduced to maybe part-time status,” said Bunten. “They could also lose some of their benefits.”

The petitions would increase the wage from the current $7.65 an hour to $9 an hour. One would then increase that by one dollar a year until it reaches $15 an hour, while the other two would increase it to $11 or $12 an hour.