Branson voters could once again be asked whether they would support a use tax in November.
The Branson Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to approve a measure that would have them vote again on whether the use tax question will appear on the upcoming November ballot. Branson voters previously rejected the measure during the August 2018 election.
“What we’re looking for is approval that you want to revisit the use tax,” said Jamie Rouch, director of finance for the city. “We will bring an ordinance back before you giving us authorization to put it back on the ballot.”
Rouch said the use tax does not represent a tax rate increase, but purchases not previously taxable may be charged the use tax.
The use tax, Rouch said, is charged at the same rate, and in lieu of, sales tax, which is 2%. Estimations from the Missouri Department of Revenue say Branson would earn an additional $492,178 annually if the use tax is approved by voters.
According to a staff report from the city, a use tax is applied in lieu of a sales tax on purchases made with out-of-state vendors, including internet, catalogue and direct market sales. During a previous city study session, Rouch said the use tax could serve to “even the playing field” for local retailers having to compete against out-of-state, online merchants.
“We would be adding the tax over the internet for internet sales, not brick-and-mortar,” Rouch said. “Because brick-and-mortar are already collecting the sales tax.
“As time goes by, more and more people shop online ... it’s just quicker and easier when you’re a busy working mom or anyone else. We want to make sure brick-and mortar stores have that same fairness. We’ll be paying the same amount no matter where you go, that’s the intent.”
Aldermen said if the use tax question goes on the ballot, the city needs to be sure on being open and transparent on presenting the facts behind the use tax question.
“There’s only so much appetite for additional taxes,” Alderman Kevin McConnell said.
In April, Hollister voters approved a use tax in that city.