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Parson calls special session on issue dealing with vehicle sales

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s chief executive has called for a special session, which will run concurrently with veto session, to address a vehicle sales issues. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson officially called lawmakers back during the week of Sept. 9, when members of the General Assembly are already scheduled to be in Jefferson City. 

The special session will center around a Missouri Supreme Court ruling involving the Department of Revenue (DOR).

“After reviewing the Court’s decision, we’ve decided to call a special session because it’s simply the right thing to do for the people of our state,” Parson said in a statement Wednesday. “The enforcement of this decision would create a financial burden on Missouri taxpayers and unnecessary government red tape that we can proactively prevent.” 

On June 25, the high court unanimously determined state statute allows the sale proceeds of only one vehicle to be credited against the purchase price of a new vehicle in computing sales tax.

The issue came to a head when David and Jill Kehlenbrink sought a sales tax refund from the purchase of a new vehicle after selling two additional vehicles.

The Kehlenbrinks claimed the combined value of two vehicles they had sold against the purchase price of the new vehicle and paid sales tax on the net difference. Later, they sold two more vehicles and sought a sales tax refund based on the value against the purchased vehicle. The total credit from all four vehicles exceeded the purchase price of the new vehicle.

The DOR director denied the refund application. The Administrative Hearing Commission sided with the Kehlenbrinks, but the decision was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court.

State law “unambiguously permits the sale proceeds of only one vehicle to reduce the purchase price of a newly purchased vehicle for purposes of calculating sales tax,” the ruling stated.

“The Supreme Court’s recent decision in ‘Kehlenbrink’ created a need to clarify an area of state law that has been historically unclear to the citizens of Missouri,” Acting Director of the Department of Revenue Ken Zellers said. “The special session presents an excellent opportunity to do just that.”

The legislature may amend the state law during special session to allow for the sale of multiple vehicles to be used as a credit, in line with DOR’s prior practice and what consumers have come to expect, according to a press release. 

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade blasted Parson’s decision to call a special session over the vehicle tax issue.

“Roughly 100,000 Missouri children have lost their state health care coverage, but the Parson administration says there’s no problem,” Quade said. “Missouri’s irresponsible and weak gun laws have contributed to a sharp spike in gun violence and recently enabled a heavily armed man to cause a panic at a Springfield Wal-Mart, yet Governor Parson does nothing. There are several issues that demand immediate legislative attention and would justify the cost of a special session. Creating another unnecessary tax break for a handful of people isn’t one of them.”

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is running for governor in 2020, asked Parson to call a special session earlier this week for a different issue — implementing armed officers in schools.

“School resource officers are sworn career law enforcement who already receive specialized training and certification under Missouri law,” Galloway, a Democrat, said. “It should be a top priority for state government to ensure every school has an experienced, properly trained school resource officer who is prepared to neutralize a threat and respond to emergency situations.”

Last year, Parson called a special session — focussing on STEM education and treatment court expansion — concurrent with veto session. The timeliness of the two sessions was seen as a way to “cut down on any additional costs and save taxpayer dollars.”

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.