Still claims legislative proposals will modernize taxes, increase state revenues

One proposal would allegedly reduce the budget shortfall by about 25 percent.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, will propose legislation in the coming week to tax Internet sales at a more equal rate with traditional brick and mortar sales, a move that could provide $160 million in additional revenue to Missouri. Still will also propose a raise in cigarette tax by 12 cents per pack, and wishes to readjust income tax brackets to reflect inflation.

Still said the state cannot continue to cut its way to a better economy.

“We must take action that will support the University of Missouri and our state’s public schools if we are going to compete economically,” Still said in a news release.

Her proposal, The Main Street Protection Act, would provide tax code structure to level the playing field for traditional businesses against Internet sales.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, has not filed any bills yet, but said he will file bills in the coming week which will simplify the organ donation process and reconcile the budget.

Kelly said he enthusiastically supported Still’s proposed legislation, but said he thought the bills had next to no chance of getting through the majority party, since they would raise taxes on some people.

“I think the most likely to get any traction might be the Main Street Protection Act,” Still said. “The people that are getting squeezed are the middle class people who are working for a living, and that includes many of our store owners.”

Still said there is an unfair advantage given to online sales because they are not required to pay the same state taxes as traditional small businesses.

Still said the proposal to raise taxes on cigarettes could get attention, but because the tax would still be the lowest in the country, the state would not lose money to individuals driving across the state line to buy cigarettes elsewhere.

Both Kelly and Still agree Still’s third proposal, which would account for inflation to decide income tax rates, is the least likely to gain support. Inflation rates have not been adjusted since 1931, so the highest income bracket is still $9,000.

“When someone making $9,000 has to pay the same rate of taxes as a multi-millionaire, that is just wrong,” Still said.

Her bill proposes updating the tax rate to reflect current income levels. According to Still, it is unlikely to get through, because it would raise taxes on some people, though it would decrease taxes for lower income individuals.

“People in the State House of Representatives like to protect the rich, and they don’t want to raise taxes on the rich,” Still said. “I feel it’s the middle income people who need our protection.”

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