Missouri House advances bill to collect online sales taxes

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JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval, 78-72, to a bill that would require out-of-state retailers to collect taxes from Missourians on online sales.

The bill proposes a 4.225% online sales tax, applicable to online out-of-state retailers that sell at least $100,000 in products to Missouri residents or make at least 200 separate sales over a year.

Matt McCormick, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said the online tax would level the playing field between online retailers from out of state and local stores. 

"If you are going online and purchasing that online versus walking into one of the brick-and-mortar stores, what you are paying in sales tax is going to be, would be the same on both," he said. 

Julie Donnelly is a retired autism consultant who sells her jewelry at an art gallery downtown. 

"I think most of our customers are local people," she said.

She said the proposed online tax "seems fair."

"Everybody else is being taxed for their things, so it seems reasonable that there's tax on the things they sell online," Donnelly said. 

As an online shopper, Donnelly would have to pay the proposed online tax, but she said that wouldn't stop her from buying things that way.

"It's ridiculous how easy it is to get everything," she said. "I used to go Christmas shopping in the stores and I don't anymore. It's so convenient to look online and you can get good sales and they mail it to you often without any charge."

Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, proposed the bill. He said the online sales tax would only apply to sellers who are not being taxed already. 

If passed, customers would pay the proposed 4.225% sales state on the products they buy from outside Missouri, in place of all the local taxes. 

The bill follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that gave states the ability to collect sales taxes from out-of-state retailers who sell items to their residents.

Legislative researchers have estimated the tax could bring in as much as $100 million in tax revenue to the state once it's fully implemented, but that figure is based on a previous version of Eggleston's bill.