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Columbia/Boone County voters approve use tax; Ashland rejects the change

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)

On Tuesday, voters in Boone County and Columbia passed a Proposition 1 Use Tax on the ballot which will add a sales tax on out-of-state vendors for online purchases. 

Boone County's use tax will be 1.75% and Columbia's be will 2%. This is the exact same as what residents already pay when buying from local businesses in person. With both passings, Columbia residents will now pay 3.75% for out-of-state.

This "Wayfair tax” has appeared on the ballot in Boone County before but never passed, most recently being rejected in 2017.

Boone County commissioner, Janet Thompson, said the use tax is needed in today's evolving sales world.

"It took a long time for the courts to recognize that the way we do business has changed and that we needed to close that gap to be able to impose a tax and pose the same tax on those remote sales. That was reflected in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in 2018 in the South Dakota v. Wayfair case," Thompson said.

Thompson said the use tax will help the crews throughout the county who need $4,000 in training to get a CDL driver's license to operate machinery.

"This revenue will certainly help us meet that cost because our drivers have to have their commercial driver's license, that's not an option. We have to find a way to pay for it and, you know, it's like, thank you to the people of Boone County because we have those enhanced costs that we must meet in order to provide our services," Thompson said.

Matt McCormick, president and CEO of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, says this is not a new tax and it will be used to help level the playing field between online stores and local businesses.

"It really helps out in the area of our especially our small retail businesses here kind of helps with that, that playing field even the playing field against the online shopping online retail stores like an Amazon or like a Wayfair and things like that," McCormick said.

McCormick said the use tax works exactly like sales tax and is set up in the same distribution that the sales tax does.

"It goes to things like helping with roads, filling in all those potholes that we so dearly love this time of year, helping with public safety, whether it be in the sheriff's department at the 911 Center, our local Columbia Police Department, and then a number of other different things. So other things like some parks a little bit in airport transportation things along those lines," McCormick said.

McCormick says it speaks loudly that the public truly supports local businesses and wants to continue to support local businesses to make sure the area has a thriving economy as they enter the endemic phase.

Ashland voters rejected the sales tax with 537 voting no and 453 voting yes. Ashland's use tax would have been 2.5% for out-of-state vendors.

Kyle Michel, Ashland's city administrator, says he doesn't feel like the city did enough to educate the public on the tax and the hopes are to bring it back on the ballot in the near future.

"We've kind of already started to discuss internally. I think we'll probably throw it on the ballot for November," Michel said.

Michel says online sales are becoming ever more popular so that's an untapped resource for the city. "We've got a fairly extensive capital improvement plan for, for our streets department. We've got a lot of road miles, we're getting more road miles every year with the addition of new subdivisions. That sales tax will also go towards the park and rec enhancement opportunities with the growing community," Michel said.

The Columbia proposition passed with 11,289 votes in favor and 8,282 against. The Boone County proposition passed with 15,278 votes in favor and 13,157 against.

Both of the use taxes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.

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