Voters in Cape Girardeau County and the city of Cape Girardeau will decide this spring whether a use tax should be charged on purchases made across state lines. After a public hearing on use tax held by the county commission Thursday, commissioners unanimously approved placing a question on the April 8 municipal ballot. The city of Jackson may also place a use tax question on the ballot on the same date. A public hearing and vote by Jackson's board of alderman is set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at Jackson city hall. Executives and boards from area chambers of commerce have voiced support of a use tax in recent months because they say they believe it will "level the playing field" for local businesses such as auto dealers. Missouri municipalities began placing use-tax questions on the ballot after the state supreme court ruled in 2012 that local governments could not charge sales tax to Missouri residents on certain purchases made out of state. The legislature and governor have since allowed governments to keep collecting local sales taxes on purchases with the passage of a law in 2013, but it stipulates that governments only can keep charging tax on those purchases through a voter-approved use tax. A use tax measure must then be approved by voters before November 2016.
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