New tax measure to be voted on for online and out-of-state purchases in Ozark

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OZARK,Mo.– Voters in Ozark will see a Use Tax on the ballot during the June 2 elections next week.

If passed, a 2.375% tax will be applied to all online and out-of-state purchases made by Ozark residents, the same as the city’s local sales tax. 

Voters failed to pass the same issue two years ago. It will now show up again on the June 2 ballot, taking the place of the postponed April 7 election.

The Ozark Chamber of Commerce has come out in favor of the issue, claiming the city is losing out on revenue that should be kept locally.

Anna Evans, Executive Director, says in a press release from Show Me Christian County, “With brick and mortar storefronts shuttered and just beginning to reopen due to COVID-19, local sales are down and many shoppers are buying necessities online with a single click. However, many people don’t realize that these online retail giants are exempt from paying any sales tax to local municipalities. Local businesses, however, do pay a local sales tax.”

Show Me Christian County says the use tax funds would be applied towards public safety, parks, trails, and playgrounds, and city facilities beginning with a new no-kill animal shelter. 

Meanwhile, those against more taxes on Ozark residents say the measure was already turned down by voters once, and see no need to put it on the ballot again.

Alderman Jason Shaffer says he plans to vote no on the issue for a number of reasons.

Shaffer says the tax would span across all online retailers across the world, including those who do not intend, and would never be located in Ozark, thus placing taxes on items that wouldn’t be locally taxed in the first place.

Shaffer also believe it wouldn’t necessarily level the playing field for local, store-front businesses. He says people shop online for the variety and convenience, and a use tax likely wouldn’t change where and how people shop.

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