During their May 21, 2018 meeting, the Joplin City Council voted unanimously to put a question to the voters asking if they would approve a local use tax. The measure will be on the August 7 ballot, as City of Joplin Proposition A.
A use tax is a tax that applies to purchases made from out-of-state vendors and is applied to the same type of products subject to traditional sales tax. The difference is where the goods are purchased and shipped. Consumers would never pay both a use tax and a sales tax. The use tax would be assessed at the same rate as the total city sales taxes of 2 5/8 percent. (2.625%)
Earlier this year, the City Council commissioned a Citizens Task Force to study this issue and bring back their decision whether to ask voters to endorse a use tax. After several months of review, the citizens group voted unanimously to recommend that Council place the question to the voters. Along with this decision, the task force also unanimously recommended:
- No sunset provision for the use tax; and
- To allocate proceeds from use tax in exact same manner as the five existing sales taxes (1% general, ½% general for public safety purposes, ½% transportation, ¼% parks/stormwater, 3/8% capital improvements)
“The use tax would capture the local tax on certain purchases made out-of-state and brought into Joplin for use,” said Finance Director Leslie Haase. “When citizens make a purchase from an out-of-state business, possibly by online shopping or ordering from a catalog, the business would impose the use tax on that transaction. It would be assessed at the same rate of the sales tax.”
The use tax was also endorsed by the Vision Joplin 2020 citizens group, as they recognized the tax as recapturing those lost sales taxes on out-of-state purchases. Both this group and the Citizens Task Force realize that the use tax is important to Joplin because it levels the playing field between hometown merchants and out-of-state sellers.
“The use tax helps retain local businesses which in turn keeps local jobs in the area,” said Joan Ghani, Manager of Northpark Mall. Ghani co-chairs the Citizens Task Force with Erik Bartlett, owner and manager of The RunAround retail store; and Rodney Spriggs, owner of Vintage Stock.
Members of the task force are available to speak to groups interested in learning more about the use tax. If interested, citizens should contact Lynn Onstot, City’s Public Information Officer, at 417-624-0820, ext. 204, to schedule a time.