The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Tax Policy is considering a series of recommendations regarding Missouri’s tax credit programs. But it looks as though it’s going to be a while before those proposals are drawn up and agreed to.

What is known is that there are 54 active tax credit programs in existence that offered $627 million in the 2009 fiscal year. In addition there were 132 tax exemptions. What is not known is the effectiveness of these tax credit programs. And legislators want to take a look at these programs to make sure Missouri is benefitting from them.

“My belief is that we need to go back through all of these programs, all of our tax credit programs,” said Senator Brad Lager (R-Savannah), the Chairman of the Committee. “Let’s look at what was authorized and issued over the last few years.”

Representative Mike Sutherland (R-Warrenton) is open to various ideas regarding tax credits, provided we know whether the state is getting a return.

“If a business was spending billions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars and not know what they’re getting for that money I think they wouldn’t be in businesses very long,” said Sutherland. “Sometimes, from government, we can’t always consider everything from a business perspective, but certainly you think we’d consider the business tax credits, anyway, from a business standpoint.”

Accountability is the bottom line.

“As much money as we’re using of taxpayer money to provide these credits I think we need to make sure we’re getting what we pay for,” said Sutherland.

Chairman Lager has asked the committee to consider whether an outside firm should help track the tax credits to determine whether Missouri’s investment is yielding the desired returns.

Audio: Steve Walsh report (:62 MP3)