Neosho voters to consider use tax a third time

Joe Hadsall, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·2 min read

Apr. 3—NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho voters will once again decide whether to assess a use tax primarily on internet purchases.

Citing increased internet buying and associated lost sales tax revenues, as well as slim margins of defeat in previous elections, the Neosho City Council placed the measure on the Tuesday's ballot.

The ballot language is similar to the city's previous two attempts in 2019 but features two changes:

—The amount being requested is 3%, not 2.5%. The intent of the use tax is to mirror the sales tax, and Neosho's sales tax recently increased after voters in June approved a half-cent increase for funding police and fire departments.

—The ballot language includes a sentence describing why the city is asking for the measure. It reads: "In an attempt to eliminate the unfair advantage enjoyed by out-of-state vendors over local vendors."

Earlier this year, council members said the use tax was necessary to recover sales tax revenue lost to internet purchases.

The use tax, they say, is not an additional tax but would simply replace the revenue the city received before online purchases became popular and people made most of their purchases locally.

Use taxes are similar to sales taxes, but use taxes are assessed only on online and other out-of-state purchases. Local use taxes in Missouri are assessed at the same rate as local sales taxes, with the revenue going to governmental bodies such as cities, counties and states.

The main difference is that a use tax is not intended to be an additional sales tax. The use tax would be assessed only on purchases obtained from online retailers such as Amazon or other out-of-state vendors. A use tax would not be applied on purchases made from traditional brick-and-mortar businesses in Neosho.

Voters rejected the tax measure twice in 2019 by slim margins. In April of that year, the measure failed by only 15 votes, 335 to 320. In November, the measure failed again but by only eight votes, 348 to 340.

Follow Digital Editor Joe Hadsall on Twitter at @JoeHadsall.