Bill Would Exempt Food-Selling Business from Paying Some Taxes

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COLUMBIA - A bill in the Missouri Senate that would exempt business from paying sales tax on their electric bills is awaiting approval, but left one Columbia restaurant manager concerned about the loopholes.

The big change in the bill would exempt food-selling businesses from having to pay sales tax for electricity used to provide the food to customers.

Matthew Porter, manager of Ingredient restaurant, said when he first heard about the bill he thought it would have a positive impact on the business.

"We like to save money whenever we can," Porter said.

Ingredient's electric utility bill sales tax averaged $115 a month in 2013. He said he would rather pay the thousand dollars in sales tax annually because of how much Missouri would lose in tax revenue if the bill passes.

According to the Kansas City Star, if the bill were to pass, the Department of Revenue estimates a loss of more than $4 million.

Porter is concerned about the broad definition of providing food, which could include gas stations, cafeterias, and grocery stores. He's concerned that these locations have limited sales of food, but would still benefit from the sales tax exemption.

Porter was also surprised by how strong the vote was in support of the bill in the House.

Bill 1865 passed in the House Thursday in a 134-12 vote. There is no date set on when the Senate will have its first hearing on the bill.