JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, announced Thursday that he had filed a sunshine request for data regarding the earnings tax in both St. Louis and Kansas City. The earnings tax is a one percent municipal tax on income taken by the two cities which takes in around 33 percent of their revenue.
The earnings tax has come under fire from Republican legislators in both bodies of the General Assembly. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has introduced a measure that would outright eliminate each city’s earnings tax under fear that they may violate a Supreme Court ruling regarding a municipal tax in Maryland from 2015 and that it may be applied arbitrarily and unfairly.
“The reality for St. Louis is if we don’t get this worked out legislatively, someone’s going to sue them,” Schaefer said in an interview last December.
Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, has filed legislation that would exempt St. Louis County residents from paying the city earnings tax, even if they work within city limits.
“St. Louis uses the earnings tax to collect millions of dollars from St. Louis County residents—including many of my constituents—who don’t have the right to vote on the issue or to determine how their tax dollars are spent,” he said in a past statement. “That is taxation without representation.”
The mayors of both St. Louis and Kansas City, Francis Slay and Sly James, respectively, have both stated their own disapproval of such measures, arguing that the earnings taxes make up for a large portion of their revenue streams.
Haahr says that with debates on both pieces of legislation likely to emerge in the coming months, additional information afforded by these would be vital to the conversation
“I think it’s imperative we have the actual numbers in front of us so we can have a meaningful discussion about these taxes, and how they are impacting Missourians as well as employment and economic growth in our two biggest cities,” he said. “My hope is that both cities will respond quickly to my request, and provide us with the information we need.”