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Wallingford files vehicle sales tax bill: What to know


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The special session kicked off Monday afternoon with Sen. Wayne Wallingford filing legislation tackling the vehicle sales tax issue

From the Senate floor, the veteran Republican lawmaker said the bill will impact citizens in every senator’s district and clarifies state statute regarding how many vehicles — including boats, motors, or trailers — taxpayers could credit against the purchase of a new one. 

The Missouri Supreme Court decided in June the statute in question “unambiguously permits the sale proceeds of only one vehicle to reduce the purchase price of a newly purchased vehicle for the purposes of calculating sales tax.” This meant the court interpreted the statute to be a “one-for-one” sort of deal when trading in a vehicle for another and using that credit to offset some of the cost. 

Shortly after the Senate gaveled in Monday afternoon, Wallingford introduced SB 1. Here’s a look at what to know about the bill as it was introduced. 

‘Returns tax policy to original intent’

First and foremost, the bill “returns Missouri tax policy” back to the “original intention of saving taxpayers money,” Wallingford told The Missouri Times. 

The bill changes statute to plural language — modifying “article” to “articles” and adding the clause “one or more previously owned motor vehicles, trailers, boats, or outboard motors, or any combination thereof.” 

The original statute went into effect in 1963 and has been modified several times throughout the years — including in 2005 which led to a new regulation from the Department of Revenue (DOR) a year later indicating the sale of multiple vehicles is allowed. 

But that changed when one Missouri couple tried to credit four vehicles against the purchase of a new one, the total credit exceeding the purchase price of the new vehicle. The DOR denied the refund application, and the Missouri Supreme Court interpreted state statute to be a “one-for-one” deal. 

Supreme Court decision expedited need for special session

Given that Missourians have only 180 days to take advantage of the vehicle sales credit, Wallingford argued a special session was needed so people were not “caught up in a loophole” waiting for the legislature to pass a bill — and take it to the governor — next year. 

For example, if someone purchased a new vehicle on June 25, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision, that person would only have until Dec. 22 to take advantage of the credit. The next legislative session does not begin until January — leaving some consumers in the lurch. 

Wallingford said the changes would affect individuals in every single Senate district from all walks of life. For example, he said, someone could own a boat, outboard motor, and a trailer and want to sell all three, use the credits, for something newer. 

No fiscal note — yet 

Since the bill was filed on Monday, a fiscal note has not yet been determined and attached to the bill. 

Lawmakers will be able to add amendments to the bill — including tweaking it to put a cap on just how much people could credit other vehicles against a new one — this week during debate.

Members will receive $119.20 per diem. As the schedule stands now, the attendance of the full body is only required on Sept. 11, said Dana Rademan Miller, chief clerk of the House. 

Wallingford noted lawmakers were already scheduled to be in Jefferson City for veto session.