Kansas City leaders slam proposed sales tax cap

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Sly James, along with leaders from the public safety, transportation and economic sectors came together Wednesday to voice opposition to a proposed sales tax cap in Missouri.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St.Peters), who believes sales taxes in the state have spiraled out of control and burdened the working poor. The current draft of the bill puts forth a 14 percent cap on state and local sales taxes combined.

"There's plenty of breathing room already built into the bill. There's plenty of opportunities to decide what the priorities of the community are under the 14 percent level," he explained.

Currently, in Missouri, no city has hit that figure. However, according to the fiscal note on the legislation, Kansas City has some of the highest rates in the state. The highest is 10.6 percent, which shoppers in the Performing Arts CID and the Downtown Streetcar TDD pay. 

Mayor Sly James said on Wednesday taxpayers get what they pay for in this case. He was joined by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the KCATA, labor unions and fire and police officials in speaking out against HB 2168. 

"There is no reason for the state of Missouri to come in and tell the people of Kansas City you can't make sure you have money to provide for basic services and for the people who provide them," Mayor James said.

Others warned of the potential economic impact of the legislation. 

"These sales taxes help build bridges, infrastructure and buildings. It would impede on our ability to put people to work," Joe Hudson of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council said.

Christofanelli said his sales tax cap does have support in Jefferson City. Greitens' Department of Revenue Director Joel Waters suggested such a move in a 2017 tax policy analysis.

"Missouri's many sales tax jurisdictions and rates are confusing, complicated and poised to increase in the future. To promote simplicity and fairness, the General Assembly could cap the overall sales tax rate," Waters wrote in the University of Missouri's Business, Entrepreneurship & Tax Law Review.

The bill still needs to pass out of committee before it will head to the House floor. 

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