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Counties consider use tax question on April ballot

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Voters in some Southeast Missouri counties may have the opportunity in April to decide whether to allow the collection of sales taxes that the Missouri Supreme Court ruled last year governments could no longer take from consumers.

County commission meetings set for today in at least two area counties -- Cape Girardeau and Scott -- will include discussions of placing a use-tax question on the April ballot. Today is the last day a ballot question for April can be certified. County commissioners would have to vote in approval of placing the question on the ballot.

Governments in Bollinger and Perry counties also are said to be considering a ballot question, but government offices were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and officials could not be reached for comment.

The Missouri Supreme Court decided last spring that local governments no longer could charge sales tax on vehicles purchased out of state or on person-to-person sales. As a result, some local governments are facing up to a 20 percent dip in annual sales tax revenue.

A voter-approved use tax would allow local governments to levy a tax with everyone paying the full amount of sales tax charged in that particular area. A use tax in Cape Girardeau and Scott counties would be 1 percent. Any city with a voter-approved use tax could charge the amount equal to city sales tax.

Officials in both counties have said they are hopeful the state legislature will pass a bill during the current session to reinstate their ability to collect the sales taxes, but as of Monday no legislation had been introduced in the state House of Representatives or Senate. The legislature passed a bill during the 2012 session that would have allowed the collection of sales tax on vehicle purchases, but it was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. Some House Republicans attempted to override the veto but could not come up with enough votes.

"I was hoping the state would try to tackle it, but I don't think they are going to," said Scott County Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger.

State Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, who has been in support of the legislature moving to reinstate the tax, on Monday said he anticipates a bill will be filed during the current session, but other legislation under consideration, such as a bill calling for elections to fill vacancies in statewide elected offices, has taken precedence.

The Scott County Commission more likely will address the use tax question with a vote today, although Burger said commissioners have been trying to get a feel for surrounding counties' plans before making any decision about placing it on the ballot.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said the commission's special meeting set for 9 a.m. today may be canceled -- commissioners wanted to hear from local chambers of commerce about seeking a use tax before a vote, he said, which has not yet happened.

Tracy said he wasn't confident the legislature would move to change local governments' ability to collect sales taxes as they once did.

"Either we need to solve the problem, or just accept the fact that it's not going to get fixed, in my opinion," he said.

Approximately 40 Missouri counties have a use tax. A few were able to add use taxes in November elections, but, overall, most voters said they did not want one when the question was placed on the ballot.



Pertinent address:

131 S. Winchester St., Benton, Mo.

1 Barton Square, Jackson, Mo.

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Voters do not want the tax, if the question is put on the ballot, please vote against it.....

-- Posted by grandpa3 on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 7:36 PM

"commissioners wanted to hear from local chambers of commerce about seeking a use tax"

"Mehner said that as much of 15 percent of retail sales dollars could be disappearing to Internet sales. " from http://www.semissourian.com/story/186956...

"We have to level the playing field between 'bricks and mortar' stores and sales on the Internet," says Mehner. "It is time to have the same sales tax rate for both -- regardless of what that is." from http://www.semissourian.com/story/179643...

Since disposable income is not an infinite resource, and haven't yet been able to find any supporting resources - just wondering what the correlation is between a change in sales / use / transaction privilege (as Arizona likes to call it) tax and change in related business revenues would be?

-- Posted by fxpwt on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 7:54 PM


-- Posted by vietnamvet on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 8:28 PM

we are taxed to death as it is. Do with what you have, that is what we taxpayers have to do.

how about having one guy leaning on a shovel instead of two.....

-- Posted by bagman75 on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 8:55 PM

If our local officials want to resolve the use tax issue then they need to compromise. Very few Cape Residents will vote to add a tax unless they are receiving some new benefit for it. Citizens might be willing to pay more to get a shiny new Water Park, or for more Fire Departments or Schools, but they are never going to vote to tax themselves more to give the city a bigger general revenue fund.

Offer to slightly cut our existing sales taxes or property taxes in exchange for allowing a city use tax and then you would have a ballot question that can win a majority of votes.

-- Posted by Nil on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 9:55 PM

The use tax will not usually be collecting tax from Missourians. It will be collecting tax from Illinoisans who purchase vehicles in Missouri. It would impose sales tax on the sales of vehicles between private individuals. Ask yourself how often you do that, and would it be worth it to get the tax from out of state buyers?

-- Posted by docksider21 on Mon, Jan 21, 2013, at 11:07 PM

Contrary to the above, Cape voters have shown they do want such taxes, at least in votes taken when turnout is low. The question is, how many vote in April?

-- Posted by semowasp on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 6:08 AM

Missouri Supreme Court ruled last year governments could no longer tax consumers for out of state purchase's. So the state Supreme court has said enough and now they want to come at us again. When will enough be enough ?

-- Posted by Airborne 95B on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 7:36 AM

Cape Girardeau get money from the boat 1.00 a person and they want more money to spend I say LIMIT SPENDING ON GOVERNMENT they will never have enough money

-- Posted by falcon2412 on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 8:15 AM

Still say take away the county cars the $70,000 a year and the pension plans. Lets vote on a Charter Government a get rid of our crooked commissioners.We can remove the SB40 funds that are only funding VIP, They proved last year they can operate just fine without the $870,000 a year from the county. The County commission and the CCBDD is the biggest waste of our tax dollars,but lets complain about a 1% tax.

-- Posted by DDparent on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 12:39 PM

The one cent sales tax would be easier to pay than having to come up with sales tax on a $30,000.00 vehicle. Some taxes are a good trade off. Maybe we should analyze this one a little closer before taring and feathering...

-- Posted by Justapinion on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 4:39 PM

The concern here is that the use tax appears not to be limited to just recouping the tax revenues lost "on vehicles purchased out of state or on person-to-person sales" where sales tax is no longer collected as before, but will include Internet sales and like merchandise not being taxed at full rates now. Kinda like regaining lost ground with a few extra square miles to boot.

The county tax would amount to $100 per $10,000 worth of vehicle.

For city residents, suspect if a county vote passes, then you're up-to-bat next. The Cape city tax of 2.75% amounts to $275 for each $10,000 worth of vehicle.

A couple-hundred dollars here and there, pretty soon talking about some real money.

Keep in mind the recent windfall of a 10-12% stepped increase in taxes collected from Ameren electric utility customers as a result of the Ameren electric rate increase - approximated at $1 per month per residence.

-- Posted by fxpwt on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 4:59 PM

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