May 23, 2020

On June 2, Lee’s Summit voters will have an opportunity to consider a local use tax, which would increase funding for essential City services such as street maintenance, public safety, code enforcement and parks maintenance. A use tax would be placed on goods purchased from out-of-state vendors who are currently not paying local sales tax. The use tax would be applied at the same rate as the City’s sales tax, which is 2.25 percent.

The City is forecasting a 10 percent decline in sales tax revenue for the 2021 fiscal year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the City was already experiencing a shift in consumer preference to e-commerce. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, total e-commerce sales rose 14.9 percent in 2019 to $601.7 billion nationwide. E-commerce sales represented 11 percent of total sales throughout the nation in 2019. To keep pace with this trend, the City must modernize its revenue sources to continue to provide the essential services our residents expect. The Missouri Department of Revenue estimated a local use tax would generate $1.8 million annually for Lee’s Summit.

A local use tax would also place local businesses on equal footing with out-of-state vendors. Out-of-state vendors currently avoid local taxes, putting local businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Approval of this question will eliminate the disparity in tax rates collected by local and out-of-state sellers by imposing the same rate on all sellers.

The local use tax would only be applied to purchases from out-of-state vendors for delivery and use in Lee’s Summit. The 2.25 percent local use tax on purchases made from out-of-state vendors would be equivalent to the 2.25 percent local sales tax applied to local purchases. Residents will never be charged a double tax on any purchases.

More than 200 Missouri cities already have a use tax approved by voters. This includes Kansas City, Grandview, Liberty, Independence, Excelsior Springs, St. Joseph and Gladstone.