Local counties trying to beat deadline for use tax

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CALLAWAY COUNTY - Some counties in Missouri are looking to pass a use tax on items bought outside of the state.

Callaway County is trying to educate the public about its possible new use tax before it goes on the ballot in April. 

In order for the use tax to be put into effect, counties must pass the tax by November 2016. 

The one percent tax would apply to things bought outside of Missouri that total $2,000 and need to be licensed in the state, such as cars, RV's and boats.

In 2012 the Missouri Supreme Court stated, after Craig A. Street vs. Department of Revenue, the state cannot collect sales tax from purchases outside of Missouri but could collect a use tax.

The Missouri Department of Revenue determined the county was losing about $125,000-$135,000 per year on such out-of-state purchases, money that Commissioner Gary Jungermann said could be very useful.

"All of the monies that are generated through the use tax is going to go to those different entities throughout the county government," Jungermann said. "Between the jail, the sheriff's department and the prosecuting attorney's office, which are a good portion of our budget every year, that's where those dollars will be put."

Jungermann said the tax is important for local businesses. Without the use tax, he said, consumers can go out-of-state to buy products for cheaper, which isn't fair to local vendors. He said the tax would give Missouri vendors equal opportunity for sales as non-Missouri vendors.

"It's not only about the revenue," Jungermann said. "It's about keeping the current business that you have, your dealerships, in this case, ATV'S or boats or trailers or whatever it might be, giving them a fair shake." 

Jungermann said his biggest challenge is educating the public about the tax.

"It's not an additional tax because as long as sales tax applies, the use tax never comes into play. But if the sales tax does not apply, then the use tax, because you're using it in the state of Missouri, or in Callaway County, for this example, then the use tax would apply," Jungermann said. 

If the tax doesn't pass by November 2016, certain items could be bought out-of-state without a local tax.

Howard, Cooper and Osage counties already have the tax in place. There is no use tax currently on Boone County's April ballot.