A local Libertarian gubernatorial candidate is among those leading a group to abolish personal property taxes on vehicles and other equipment, and the group is hoping a Republican state senator's resolution will carry a constitutional amendment question on the issue directly to voters.
The Stop Taxing Our Personal Property Committee has been working to collect signatures for an initiative petition to put a question on the November ballot that would ask voters whether to amend the Missouri Constitution to eliminate personal property taxes.
However, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, has filed a Senate joint resolution this spring, SJR 44, that wouldn't need the initiative petition process to put the question before voters — if passed by the Legislature, Eigel's bill would become effective upon voter approval.
Eigel spoke Tuesday afternoon at a STOPP Committee rally in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda.
He said Missouri is among 21 of the 50 U.S. states that have a personal property tax on vehicles including cars, motorcycles, boats, trailers and farming equipment — the only state he's ever lived in that's had such a tax — and Missouri's tax rate is the third-highest of the 21 states.
Eigel also said it's a tax that primarily affects middle and working class families.
He said there's never been a better time to cut taxes, given current revenue levels, and the economic growth spurred by people having more money available to spend after the elimination of personal property taxes would help municipalities recoup the revenue they had been getting through the taxes.
Eigel's resolution would not affect real property taxes on homes, businesses and other real estate.
Even so, he acknowledged Tuesday morning during a Senate committee hearing on his resolution that eliminating personal property taxes would cut 15-17 percent of the revenue for his home St. Charles County's budget.
He offered the same sorts of assurances at the Senate's Ways and Means Committee meeting as he did later at the STOPP Committee rally — that "cutting leads to growth," and the money put in people's pockets would boost the state's gross domestic product with a $1.5 billion infusion.
According to the fiscal analysis of his resolution, the state in 2018 collected through personal property taxes $945 million on motor vehicles, $505 million on other personal property and $74 million state assessed for a total of $1.524 billion.
The estimated fiscal impact of eliminating the collection of those taxes would be "the loss of $1.4 (billion) to $1.6 billion to political subdivisions such as school districts, fire districts, cities, counties and other local taxing jurisdictions in annual revenue."
The fiscal analysis notes that according to the Cole County Collector's Office, of the more than $16.1 million in personal property taxes for Cole County in 2019, more than $12.8 million goes to school districts, and personal property taxes are almost 20 percent of the overall amount of real estate and personal property tax collections.
The state has more than 2,800 local taxing jurisdictions, the analysis adds.
STOPP Committee President Gary Nolan said alternative revenue sources of sales taxes, real estate taxes and increased efficiency are available.
Eigel said at the rally that he expects his resolution to be voted out of committee next week to then be heard on the Senate floor.
Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, is the chairman of the committee, and he, Eigel — who is vice chairman — and fellow committee members Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, and Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin, R-Shelbina, are all members of the Senate's Conservative Caucus.
Testimony at Tuesday morning's hearing against Eigel's resolution included state associations of counties and schools, and the County Employees' Retirement Fund.
Approximately 25 people attended the STOPP Committee rally in support of the group's petition and Eigel's bill.
Rik Combs is the STOPP Committee's treasurer. Combs is a Cole County resident who has previously announced his intention to run as a Libertarian against incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
The STOPP Committee had approximately $8,700 on hand, as of its most recent financial report in January with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The group had collected more than $5,200 in the most recent reporting period, including $5,000 from Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield.
Rex Sinquefield is a Missouri billionaire who is often politically active in supporting Republican and conservative politicians and causes.