KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County voters said “no” to a proposed use tax on online, out-of-state purchases in Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial results, the measure failed 59% to 41% with over 34,000 voting against it.
A use tax is similar to a sales tax. Simply, while the latter is imposed on retail sales and services, a use tax is applied when residents purchase goods and services from sellers outside the state.
That can mean purchases bought online, over the phone, through a catalog or via mail-order supply, according to the state. It doesn’t apply if a Missouri resident buys from a Missouri-based retailer online. Missouri already has a 4.2% use tax statewide.
If approved, Jackson County’s use tax would have been the same as the total local sales tax rate.
The money raised from the use tax would have financed road and bridge construction and renovations and repairs to the county’s courthouses. It would have also provided financial assistance to homeless people in the county.
But it was a bumpy ride to even get the issue on the ballot.
Jackson County nearly placed the question on the August ballot, but a Cass County judge ruled to remove it, according to the Kansas City Star.
County lawmakers passed the ordinance earlier this year to vote on the use tax, but Jackson County Executive Frank White never signed the ordinance.
The Star reports White didn’t want to vote on the issue in August amid residents’ frustrations over higher property assessments. He also didn’t want the ballot question to be so specific on how the county would spend the revenue.
Despite lacking White’s signature, the legislature clerk told election boards to put it up for a vote. Ultimately, the judge ordered to remove the measure from the August ballot.
Even still, the use tax didn’t get on the November ballot without a fight. On July 10, Jackson County lawmakers once again passed the ordinance to put the question to voters. But White vetoed the ordinance this time.
At another legislature meeting, lawmakers overrode White’s veto in a 6-3 vote, sending the measure to voters.
While we don’t know why Jackson County voters overwhelmingly rejected the use tax, it’s clear residents don’t want to see another tax imposed on their purchases.