Local realtors are urging Missouri voters to vote yes on Amendment 4 on the Nov. 8 ballot, which if passed could prevent Missourians from paying sales tax on services.
Citizens are familiar with paying sales tax when they purchase items at the store, but placing a sales tax on services would be new in Missouri. If passed, Amendment 4 would prohibit state and local governments from imposing a new sales or use tax on services, everything from day care, funerals, banking and delivery services, to haircuts, rent, dentistry, and tattoos, just to name a few.
“We don’t think about it because we don’t currently pay a broad sales tax on services. Once we get people thinking about a new sales tax on services, they get it,” Scott Charton, spokesperson for Missourians for Fair Taxation, told the Democrat after a rally hosted Thursday afternoon by the West Central Association of Realtors. “They think about all the services that families use every day — think about haircuts, think about car repairs, think about veterinary visits or repairs to your home. All of these things are services and Amendment 4 would protect Missourians from these new sales taxes on services.”
Missouri Realtors CEO John M. Sebree was also present at Thursday’s rally and talked with the group about why they need to continue spreading support for the measure.
“This is desperately needed because in the past seven legislative sessions in Jefferson City, there have been efforts to pass legislation that could have led to a sales tax on services,” Sebree said. “So this threat is real, we’re not just making this up, this is something that needs to happen because legislators have tried to do things that could have led to a sales tax on services.”
Sebree said Missouri is being proactive in placing Amendment 4 on the ballot, as other states are now fighting legislation that would enact sales tax on services.
“We’re the first state in the nation to try to put this prohibition in our constitution. Every other state association, and when I was in Florida, we fought it,” Sebree said. “There are all these legislative efforts, like I mentioned, all over the country, that tax services. We find that every Realtor Association is always fighting a sales tax on services, but no one’s gone the extra step to proactively prohibit it in the Constitution.”
Earlier this year during the veto override session, the Missouri legislature voted against a bill that would have put a sales tax on yoga and dance classes. If Amendment 4 does not pass, the legislature, as well as local governments, could place a sales tax on services like those classes.
While the Missouri Association of Realtors began a statewide coalition, Missourians for Fair Taxation (MFT), they are backed by numerous professional organizations, such as Missouri Grocers Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Press Association and Missouri Bankers Association.
The Missouri Municipal League, however, opposes Amendment 4. A news release from MML states the proposed amendment “focuses on a problem that does not exist,” stating “there are no current efforts in Missouri to tax services.” MML claims approving Amendment 4 would prohibit local governments from adjusting sales taxes and could lead to reduction in local city-provided services.
“This measure would amend the Missouri State Constitution, making it incredibly difficult for cities to revise tax structures over time,” MML President and Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose said in the release. “It could cripple a local government in carrying out the needs citizens demand.”
Charton told those gathered that allowing for sales tax on services would also create more red tape for businesses that don’t already remit sales tax, and overall it could hurt everyone from businesses to families.
“If we had a new sales tax on services, it would hit everybody on the bottom line,” he told the Democrat.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.