LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sales tax increase for MoDOT is unfair, unnecessary

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Last month I sold an old friend and bought a new one. The old friend had over a quarter million miles on her, and the new one only had 22.

It was an exciting time, but in the back of my mind, despite how happy I was with the new car, I knew part of the process was going to hurt. That’s the step that we all put off for as long as we can because we have to shuffle money around to get it done.

What is it? Paying the taxes and getting new license plates.

My new car wasn’t too expensive, and after selling the old one, $18,888 was the net amount I paid sales taxes on. I’m very fortunate to live in a county that has a low sales tax rate (1.5 percent) and I don’t live within any city limits or other taxing jurisdiction.

Missouri sales tax on my car at 4.225 percent amounted to $798.02, and the county tax was $283.32. My licenses totaled $64.00. That got me to thinking about where all that money goes.

Every dollar of Missouri sales tax, licenses, fees and permits for any car, truck, trailer and boat sold in Missouri goes to MoDOT to support its operations. That’s in addition to the 17.3 cents for every gallon of motor fuel sold and the money that is returned to Missouri on the 18.4 cents per gallon in federal taxes.

That’s a whole bunch of money, and MoDOT wants even more! Now Congress is proposing a 12-cent increase in federal taxes at the pump. Where does it end?

To put into perspective how MoDOT spent my taxes and license fees, I recall the $400-plus million cost of converting U.S. 71 to Interstate 49 last year from Grandview to Joplin.

The final step was to spend $3.5 million to update the signage. Of that amount, $315,849.56 was spent on the mile markers placed every two-tenths of a mile. These signs averaged $238.93 each. Sadly, my taxes and license fees paid for just a little more than 3½ of these signs.

On Aug. 5, Missourians will be voting on Amendment 7, the largest tax increase in the history of Missouri. MoDOT claims they need more funding, and this ballot issue will increase everyone’s sales taxes 10 percent. The taxes I paid on my new car would increase by $108.

It’s a regressive tax that will unfairly affect working families, the elderly, the poor and students. When you see those mileage markers placed every two-tenths of a mile, know that this is just one example of how MoDOT has not been a good steward of our tax monies.

Please vote on Aug. 5, and vote NO on Amendment 7.

Fred H. Reiss lives in Urbana, Mo., in Dallas County.


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