Court says refund tax – Springfield News

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All Craig Street wanted was an inexpensive motor boat to go fishing with his family.

But when he returned from Maryland with a Tracker Tundra he found on the Internet, Street was charged $191.19 in local sales tax for the boat, outboard motor and trailer. He spent about $12,000.

Arguing that those kinds of taxes should not be applied to out-of-state sales, Street challenged the Missouri director of revenue — all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The high court said Street was right, ruling he should get his money back.

The case will reverberate statewide as some counties and other local governments that received money from similar sales try to figure out what to do next.

The ruling went into effect March 21.

“I just decided I would try to get that refund,” said Street, a Springfield attorney who represented himself in the case. “Over the course of three years, I can’t tell you how many briefs I filed.”

Local governments can make up the revenue from the lost sales taxes if they charge what’s known as a “use tax.”

Such taxes differ from sales taxes in that they are a tax on the storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property — as opposed to the sales of the items.

Ninety-three cities, including Springfield, and 39 counties have use taxes. So do 39 counties.

State and local officials don’t know how much money local governments will lose because of Street’s challenge and the high court ruling, which was issued in January.

Dick Burke, the executive director of the Missouri Association of Counties, said more local governments may look at imposing use taxes. They would require approval from voters.

“The whole issue of out-of-state sales has been going on for a long, long time,” Burke said. “These numbers are just going up exponentially.”

Greene County officials who have been trying to convince voters to approve a 1/8-cent public safety sales tax have no plans to ask for a use tax.

“It’s been a major brawl,” said Presiding Commissioner Jim Viebrock, referring to the 1/8-cent proposal. “We’re not going to want to go back into that conversation any time soon.”


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