Kinder opposes vehicle tax measure

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has found some common ground with Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon over a bill that would retroactively tax more than 122,000 vehicles bought by Missouri residents in recent months.

Kinder said Wednesday that he does not believe the Republican-led Legislature should override Nixon's veto. He cited concerns both about the retroactive nature of the tax and about re-instating a tax without a public vote.

"I respectfully differ with my friends in my party who voted for this and do not support the override," Kinder told The Associated Press.

Lawmakers are scheduled to convene Sept. 12 to consider whether to override Nixon's veto. Doing so would require a two-thirds vote in each the House and Senate, which means that majority-party Republicans would need support from some Democrats in the House.

The vehicle sales tax legislation passed in May by a 32-0 vote in the Senate and a 122-21 vote in the House. Republicans control 26 of the 34 Senate seats and 103 of the 163 House seats.

The legislation was intended to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling that said local sales taxes cannot be charged on vehicles bought out of state. The court instead said a local "use tax" could be charged on such vehicles, but only if approved by local voters. The ruling regarding local use taxes on vehicles also has been applied to cars sold by one person to another, because sales taxes only can be collected from retail businesses.

Nixon's administration has said that, if lawmakers override his veto, local sales taxes could be retroactively charged on more than 122,000 vehicles bought in individual sales or from out-of-state dealers by residents in areas without local use taxes since the Supreme Court's ruling took effect on March 21.

The governor has suggested that if cities and counties want to tax such vehicle sales, they should ask local voters to approve a use tax. Currently, 41 of Missouri's 114 counties and about 90 municipalities have voter-approved use taxes.

Like Nixon, Kinder said he believes that taxes should go to a vote of the people. Kinder also raised concerns about taxing people on purchases that already have occurred.

"It appears to me that there is a problem here — apparently legally, and constitutionally perhaps — with the retroactivity portion of this," Kinder said, "that even if the override succeeded, it would be subject to a likely successful legal attack."

Kinder said he has not lobbied lawmakers against a veto override but did share his concerns with a House leader. Kinder said he only expressed his concerns publicly after being asked about the issue recently by Mike Ferguson, a radio host who posted an interview with Kinder on his Missouri Viewpoints website.

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