Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grill pushes first legislation for stay-at-home parents

Bill could provide access to income tax credits

By: Jared Hoffmann
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 4:29 PM CDT

Parkville native and state Rep. Jason Grill, D-District 32, is pushing for state legislation that, if passed, would provide income tax credits for stay-at-home parents.

The bill, House Bill 932, marks the first legislative effort for Grill, who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives during the 2006 general elections. If approved, the bill would allow parents who stay home with their children from birth to 24 months of age to apply for a tax credit equal to 25 percent of their annual salary up to $100,000. The bill also stipulates that the parent must have been gainfully employed prior to the birth of the child and ceased to maintain that employment during the first two years of the child’s life.

Grill said the bill would allow parents to temporarily forgo working in order to stay home with their children during crucial years of development.

“If we could do anything to further a parent staying home with a newborn, I think that would be a good thing,” Grill said. “I realized the way to do that was through a tax credit.”

In its current form, the bill would allocate $2 million worth of tax credits statewide. Grill said although amendments could alter the amount and other provisions of the bill, he kept the number modest to give the program better odds of approval.

With an estimated 5.8 million stay-at-home parents reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2005, 5.6 million mothers and 143,000 fathers, he said getting the legislation approved would be a catalyst to providing greater financial assistance to stay-at-home parents in the future.

“I think this is a really good bill for Platte County because of our demographics,” Grill said. “It’s something that I campaigned on, and I’m trying my best to fulfill that.”

Kansas City resident Doug Wilson said the option to file for tax credits would have been useful while his wife Stacie remained home after the birth of their daughter Makenna, who was born October of 2004. He said his wife was able to stay home and tend to their newborn daughter for 12 weeks, but had to return to work shortly thereafter.

“She would have like to have stayed home longer, but we just couldn’t make due,” Wilson said. “It seems like the cost of living today requires a two-income household just to make ends meet. I think the bill is a step in the right direction to allow parents more time with their children in critical years.”

The bill was working its way through several house committees last week and if approved would have to gain the approval of the senate.

“I just think it’s extremely important for our area,” said HB932 co-sponsor and Rep. Trent Skaggs, D- District 31. “For very little money, we can keep people at home with their children. I would like to see the amount increased from $2 million eventually, but keeping it low could help get it passed.”

Staff writer Jared Hoffmann can be reached at 389-6636 or