JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri House Republicans opted Wednesday to forgo efforts to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of legislation designed to allow communities to charge a local sales taxes on vehicle purchases.
No motion was made to override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote. The override effort would have started in the House where the tax measure first was introduced.
The Legislature overwhelmingly approved the tax measure this spring after a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that sales taxes cannot be charged when the car, truck, boat or trailer was bought in another state and then brought into Missouri. The decision also been applied to instances when an individual sells a vehicle.
Lawmakers had pointed to fears about how the high court ruling would affect vehicle dealerships and the budgets of city and county governments. Nixon vetoed the bill in July and argued that it would increase taxes without a vote of the people. His administration estimated the bill would have imposed a retroactive tax on 108,000 vehicle sales between individuals and about 14,000 sales made at an out-of-state dealership.
Republican House leader Tim Jones said the sales tax legislation fell outside the caucus’ “traditional platform.” Jones said he would welcome Nixon calling a special legislative session to address the tax issue and that possible short-term solutions could be approving a sales tax holiday, rebate or deduction to keep Missouri consumers from crossing state lines for a tax break.
“If we had our choice, the best thing to do would be to have the governor show some leadership, call us into special session and solve this problem,” said Jones, R-Eureka.
Election year politics appeared to play at least some role with the vote coming less than two months before the Nov. 6 election.
State Rep. Tom Flanigan said he supported overriding Nixon’s veto but that too many fellow GOP lawmakers were concerned it could be perceived as raising taxes. He said Joplin could lose $360,000 each year because it does not have a use tax.
“Nobody wants to get tagged with raising a tax even if it’s a tax that’s been around since 1949, it’s not a new one,” said Flanigan, R-Carthage.
The state Supreme Court ruled Jan. 31 that Greene County could not charge a local sales tax on a man who bought a boat, motor and trailer from a dealer in Maryland. The court drew a distinction between sales taxes, which are collected by in-state retailers, and “use taxes,” which are levied on products used in Missouri but bought from an out-of-state retailer or from an individual.
Under the court ruling, local governments could charging a use tax but only if such a tax has been approved by local voters.
Just over 90 communities and 41 of 114 counties have a local use tax.
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