Let Voters Decide initiative aims to give voters a say on City Earnings Taxes
It’s April, the month where people everywhere stay in on sunny Saturdays and deliver stacks of documentation to their tax preparation service. This April, Missouri voters are also learning that they could have a say about the city earnings taxes many workers remit every year to the Internal Revenue Service of Kansas City and of St. Louis.
Workers in Kansas City are probably tackling RD-109, or RD-109NR for non-residents, while folks who live or work in St. Louis file Form E-1. Businesses also have to remit an earnings tax on profits. While many companies withhold the 1% tax for employees, any non-resident who worked part of the year outside the city may have overpaid, or may need to pay for work done inside city boundaries. In that case, filing becomes more difficult and it is up to the taxpayer to have documentation to support the dates he or she worked inside or outside the city.
These workers may soon have the opportunity to vote to sunset the city earnings tax. Here’s how that would happen:
The Let Voters Decide petition being circulated across Missouri will place language on the ballot that, if approved by voters, would trigger votes in Kansas City and St. Louis (the only cities in Missouri so far that levy a city earnings tax).
Current law doesn’t sunset the earnings tax, and for St. Louis and Kansas City residents it’s been 63 and 47 years respectively since they were engaged on this question of how best to raise city revenue. City economies, businesses, population, and industry have changed dramatically in the last half-century, so it is time to ask voters if the earnings tax is still the best way to raise revenue. Consider how often people get to vote on their local, state and federal elected officials, and that politicians are typically term-limited after 8 years. That opportunity to chart a different course, air new ideas, or simply reaffirm is what the Let Voters Decide petition aims to extend to Missouri voters.
The Let Voters Decide petition is gathering signatures across the state in order to qualify to place this language on the ballot. If Missouri voters approve that ballot initiative, it would prohibit new earnings taxes from being imposed on workers in communities that do not currently have one; and Kansas City and St. Louis voters would get a local vote every five years to decide if they would like to continue raising city revenue with the 1% earnings tax, or phase the tax out over a decade.