Three of four cities in Platte County opt to continue use tax for out-of-state vehicles

Three of four cities in Platte County voting on a somewhat confusing initiative opted to keep an existing tax in place in the April 5 general municipal election.

Voters were asked to choose no if they were in favor of continuing to tax motor vehicles, boats, trailers and outboard motors bought out of state but registered within city limits. A recent ruling in the Missouri Supreme Court and resulting legislation requires taxing entities to have a voter-approved use tax to continue collecting revenue on these items. 

Although this measure would continue a level taxation, technically the bill changes that from a sales tax by creating a use tax.

The cities of Platte City, Parkville and Platte Woods voted no on the issue with overwhelming support. Residents in the City of Tracy voted yes to discontinue the tax, and officials have until November to get the issue back on the ballot in an attempt to avoid losing revenue on those items.

In Platte City, unofficial results showed turnout at just better than 11 percent with overwhelming support of continuing the tax as a use tax. Of the 290 ballots cast, 206 (71.03 percent) were no votes. In Parkville, 630 of the 873 votes were no (72.3 percent), while Platte Woods 50 of 60 (83.33 percent) were against discontinuing the tax.

Eight of the 10 votes in Tracy were for discontinuing the tax.

Prior to the balloting, all vehicles registered in Platte City, Parkville, Platte Woods and Tracy face the same taxation regardless of the state of sale. The no vote does not change the taxation on vehicles and motors bought in Missouri.

Those seeking to keep the tax in place pointed to two potential consequences of the yes vote.

First, local car dealerships would face unfair competition because residents could purchase vehicles in Kansas and avoid the taxation. In addition, cities would lose an existing source of funding with an estimated 22 percent of vehicles in Missouri purchased out of state.

Platte County’s location relevant to the state line could make that total higher.

Taxing entities which already charged a use tax prior to Jan. 1, 2013 such as the State of Missouri, City of Kansas City and Platte County, may continue to collect sales taxes on all motor vehicles regardless of the geographical location of the dealer.

In addition to the vehicle use tax, the City of Platte Woods also asked voters to establish a use tax at the same rate as the local sales tax for large purchases from out of state vendors. That measure passed by a count of 41 to 17.