Property tax exemption for childcare centers on Missouri’s August ballot

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(The Beacon) – Missouri voters will weigh in on Aug. 6 on whether to give property tax exemptions to childcare centers when they cast ballots on Amendment 1.

As the state looks to address its chronic childcare provider shortage, lawmakers have looked to tax exemptions as incentives for opening childcare centers — even if that cuts into the tax base local governments rely on. 

Amendment 1 would ask Missourians to amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to pass a property tax exemption for childcare providers. 

If passed, the General Assembly could pass legislation that would exempt childcare providers from paying taxes on personal property. Limited numbers are available on how much the tax exemptions would cost cities, counties, schools, and other parts of local government that depend on property taxes. The state’s Blind Pension Fund could lose an estimated $400,000 a year. 

Kansas City told lawmakers that the proposal would have an unknown financial impact on the city, while a community college in St. Charles County estimated that the proposal would hurt its revenues. 

Tackling the state’s childcare provider shortage has been a bipartisan priority in Jefferson City. Lawmakers tried for years to pass plans that would give tax breaks to providers. 

Lawmakers see Amendment 1 as one path to cutting into the childcare shortage in Missouri.

Missouri’s childcare shortage

Missouri is taking an approach similar to Texas and Florida, which have both passed tax exemptions for childcare centers. 

A 2023 investigation from the Missouri Independent and MuckRock found that almost half of all Missouri children 5 and under, or about 202,000 kids, live in childcare deserts. 

In some Missouri ZIP codes, there are more than 20 children for every available seat in a childcare facility. 

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published in 2022 found that more than two-thirds of households with young children have all parents in the household in the labor force. 

A Missouri Chamber of Commerce survey in 2023 found that 80% of its members said the expense and difficulty of finding childcare keeps a significant number of Missourians out of the workforce. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation authored a 2021 study that concluded a lack of childcare costs Missouri’s economy $1.35 billion annually, including $280 million in lost tax revenue. 

The survey found that families paid an average of $656 per month for childcare. And access to early childhood education programs is limited. The Office of Head Start’s performance report found that Early Head Start programs, which serve children under 3 who are in poverty, reached only 7% of eligible Missourians. 


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Meg Cunningham

Meg Cunningham is The Kansas City Beacon’s Missouri Statehouse reporter. Previously, she worked as a national politics reporter for ABC News in Washington, D.C., where she covered campaigns and elections. Meg is a Kansas City native and graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking and doing yoga.