Missouri bills offer sales tax exemption for trucks, highway contractors

| 2/12/2007

Two bills offered in the Missouri Senate would offer tax breaks for highway contractors and certain trucks.

A bill offered by Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, is intended to reduce the cost of roadwork throughout the state. A similar effort failed to gain passage in the General Assembly a year ago.

This year's version would exempt contractors from paying sales tax on materials bought for highway projects.

Supporters of the effort say if contractors are freed from paying the tax, the Missouri Department of Transportation could earmark more money for other uses.

The change in state law could be worth $34 million for the transportation department in the first year, The Associated Press reported. That money could not be used for non-road needs, including mass transit, railroads or port improvements.

Eliminating the tax is expected to cost the state about $18 million in general revenue in the first year.

In 2006, a similar effort was approved by Senate lawmakers before changes were made to the bill in the House. A provision added to the bill would have modified sales tax exemptions for large trucks and trailers.

The change would have clarified the common carrier sales tax exemption for the purchase of motor vehicles - with a gross weight of 24,000 pounds or more - or trailers.

Missouri law now applies the exemption only if the common carrier operates solely in interstate commerce. The bill would have made the exemption applicable to both intrastate and interstate commerce.

The bill was awaiting a vote on the House floor when the session ended. Those provisions, however, have been included in a bill introduced early this year by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin.

Stouffer's latest effort - SB199 - and Nodler's bill - SB30 - are in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor