The Specter of the So-Called "Fair Tax" Rises Again in Missouri


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According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the push to pass so-called “Fair Tax” proposals in Missouri is "gaining steam" as billionaire Rex Sinquefield and his organization, Let Voters Decide, work to get these proposals on the ballot next year.  The goal is to use the threat of ballot initiatives to press lawmakers to pass “Fair Tax” legislation.

The move is the latest by Sinquefield and his organization (who backed the disastrous Proposition A which passed last year) to force a highly regressive measure on Missourians. It should come as no surprise that Republicans in the state are seriously considering the proposal. As CTJ has noted before, you can "follow the money" and find that Rex Sinquefield donated significantly to statewide Republican candidates, including contributing $200,000 to Speaker Steve Tilley who ran unopposed for his seat.

The specific legislative proposals, HJR-56 and SJR-29, would essentially replace all of Missouri’s income taxes by both increasing the rate of the sales tax as well broadening the base of the sales tax so that it applies to services.

As the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) demonstrated in its testimony to a Missouri Senate committee in January, the legislation would cut taxes only for the Top 5% of income earners in Missouri, while significantly hiking taxes on the other 95% of Missourians. This translates into a $154 average increase for the lowest 20% of taxpayers, with the average tax cut for the top 1% reaching over $25,000.

On top of all this, the Missouri Budget Project notes in a recent statement that if the proposed sales tax rate is capped at 7% as reported, then the plan would result in billions of dollars of lost revenue.

If the initiative passes, “critical programs that represent the state’s investment in its workforce, such as education, transportation, and health services would face further cuts, endangering the state’s economic recovery, ” according to the Missouri Budget Project's Executive Director, Amy Blouin.

Unfortunately, Missouri is not the only state to consider “Fair Tax” legislation. Kentucky State Representative Bill Farmer recently proposed to repeal the state's income taxes and increase the sales tax. Once again, ITEP has demonstrated how this proposal would also be highly regressive and fail to produce adequate revenue.

As many states consider dramatic overhauls to their tax systems, it is important to stay vigilant as various disastrous “Fair Tax” proposals, like those in Kentucky and Missouri, pop up throughout the country.

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