Voters answer use tax question

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Of seven communities proposing tax, three pass

Eight local communities sent a local use tax to voters in the General Municipal Election on April 5, five of which were shot down and three of which were approved.

Nearly all votes on the use tax questions passed or failed by narrow margins, illustrating how split communities are on the idea.

In Barry County, use tax questions in Cassville, Monett, Washburn and Purdy failed, with Purdy’s tax failing by one vote.

The communities of Seligman, Exeter and Wheaton all approved use taxes, with Seligman and Wheaton passing the use tax by just two votes each.

A use tax is a local tax on goods purchased from out of state for delivery locally. For example, if a person makes a purchase at a local store, the vendor collects a state and local sales tax on that item. However, if the same person makes the same purchase from an online vendor outside the state of Missouri, the vendor is not required to collect the same local sales tax.

When proposing the use tax, Purdy City Council Member Heather VanNote said the ballot question, if approved, would not add a new tax to online purchases. Rather, she explained, the proposed use tax is already being collected on online purchases by the state. The new tax proposal will allow the city of Purdy to collect its piece of the pie.

In Purdy, residents voted 31-30 against the use tax, defeating the proposal by the narrowest margin possible.

The story was similar for several local communities.

In Monett, the Barry County vote was 203 (55.31 percent) against, and 164 (44.60 percent) in favor of the vote and Lawrence County residents voted 176 (53.99 percent) against and 150 (46.01) in favor.

Cassville split the vote 60 percent to 40 percent, with a total of 201 residents voting against the tax and 134 voting in favor.

Washburn also split its use tax vote 60 percent to 40 percent, with 39 voting against and 26 voting in favor.

Just five votes determined the outcome in Exeter, where 34 voted in favor of the tax and 29 voters opposed it. Seligman voted 19-17 to approve the use tax and Wheaton voted similarly, 26-24, in favor.

Verona approved a local use tax in June of 2021.

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