Friday, October 24, 2014

What’s the Use of the Use Tax?

            Every month the Treasurer’s Office receives two sets of data from the Missouri Department of Revenue – sales tax receipts and use tax receipts. 

Sales tax is pretty straightforward and everybody who has ever gone shopping knows what the sales tax is: a percentage of your total purchase is collected by the merchant and sent to Jefferson City.  In addition to state sales taxes and municipalities and special districts, Platte County merchants collect 1.375% for Platte County General revenue, parks and transportation.

What isn’t as well known is the “use tax” which is defined as a tax that “is imposed on the use, storage or consumption of tangible personal property in Missouri, unless the purchase is subject to sales tax or there is a specific exemption,” according the Department of Revenue website.

For example, a person in Missouri buys a computer online from a business in California.  The California business doesn't charge sales tax on the purchase.  The buyer should pay a “use tax” on the use of the computer in the amount equal to what they would have paid in sales tax and file a return with the State of Missouri because sales tax wasn't collected.

I was asked this week by a business owner if sales tax or use tax should be collected on a transaction.  What if any use tax is paid for a transaction is a case by case decision, and really a legal question.  You should consult with the Missouri Department of Revenue or an attorney if you have a question.  Lots of fun information is on the DOR website

Over the last ten years in Platte County receipts for use tax have equaled about one fifth of the total sales tax receipts.  However, month to month receipts sometimes vary greatly.  Sales tax receipts for October rose over 7% compared to last year, but the use tax was up over 25%.  The previous month the use was down almost 7% and the sales tax was flat.  Like any economic data, a long range view and a larger set of data will give a more accurate picture than month to month numbers.

Sales Tax = Blue  Use Tax = Red

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Platte County General sales tax up 5.4% over Oct 13 report; up 9% for year. Use tax up 25.2% over Oct 13, down 1% for year.  Combined up 5.4% for year.  Full report this week

Friday, September 5, 2014

Platte County General sales tax up 1.2%, use down 6.8% compared to September 2013. Combined revenue up 5% for year. Full report later this month.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Treasurer Distributes Money To Schools



            The Platte County Treasurer’s Office distributed $354,682.17 to Platte County schools this week.  Under Missouri law, money collected by the county from proceeds of criminal fines and asset forfeitures are distributed to schools within the county.  Allocation of the money is based on enrollment and is transferred to the district’s school building revolving fund.

            “I don’t usually say ‘I’m happy’ when I’m distributing funds, but this is the exception,” Platte County Treasurer Rob Willard said.  “Anything our office can do to help kids makes it all worth it.”

            Park Hill, which has the largest enrollment of any school district in Platte County, received $246,864.65; Platte R-III received $76,563.86; West Platte $13,831.81; North Platte $12,814.69; and East Buchanan, which has a small portion of its boundary within Platte County, received $71.09.

            The Treasurer’s Office distributes proceeds from the school fund twice a year.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


The monthly sales report is available and online at the county’s website under “News and Announcements.”

Sales tax receipts fell 9.9% in the June 2014 report compared to the same period in 2013.  The county sales tax receipts are still in positive territory for the first six months of the year compared to the same period a year ago, rising 5.8%.

The use tax continued riding its traditional roller coaster falling 33.1%.  Go to next week for more on the use tax.

Together, the county is down 0.9% for total sales and use tax combined compared to the same time last year.

I’m not a betting man and some of my predictions have been way off over the years (ie: the 1985 Royals will be a dynasty, I would “drive” my flying car to college, Coke would never change its recipe… you see where this going.)  However, if the trend of the last three years continues, the range between the average percentages of growth for a month compared to the same month in 2013 should level out during the second half of the year. 

Double digit fluctuations have been the norm in the first two or three months of the year, but that didn’t happen this year.  Perhaps we’re seeing a statistical correction. 


One of the main responsibilities of a county treasurer is to invest money “not needed for current operations” of the government.  For instance, the county government may set aside a certain amount of revenue to cover certain expenses at later point in the fiscal year. 

For the first time in Platte County history the County Treasurer’s Office expanded the investment policy to also include of the goal of enhancing local investment.  To that end, the Treasurer’s Office will be tripling its investment deposits with the Bank of Weston in the coming weeks.  More money in local banks helps the local economy. 

County tax dollars do more to help Platte Countians when they are deposited in Weston, Platte City or Parkville and not in a bank in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. 

And besides, we’re just plain nicer in Platte County.

Monday, June 9, 2014

June sales tax numbers

June sales tax receipts are down 9.9% compared to the same time in 2013.  However, the County is still up 5.8% for the year.

The use tax was 33.1% for the same period but is only down 12.1% (Commission did budget for negative use tax growth).

Full report later this week

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Tale of Two McDonald’s

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the age of the Big Mac, it was the age of the McNugget… 

The monthly sales tax report for Platte County is online and available at under News Announcements. 

After I sent out the email announcing the sales tax numbers for the May report, an astute county citizen asked me about the calculation of sales taxes and the sales tax rate.  Specifically, how much sales tax do we really pay?  How is that figure calculated per purchase?  The short answer: it depends. 

All Platte County residents pay 4.225% for the Missouri portion of sales tax and 1.375% in county taxes (broken down below) on purchases made within the county.  However, the rest of the sales tax amount is dependent on where the business is located.  Different cities have different sales tax rates and certain business districts have additional taxes in additional to those rates.

Take McDonald’s for instance: a large Coke at the Platte City McDonald’s will cost $1.08, because you’ll pay eight cents in sales tax (4.225% for Missouri, 1.375% for Platte County and 2.375% for Platte City).  

Drive south on I-29 to the McDonald’s on 64th Street and the very same large Coke will cost you $1.11 – state and county portion of 5.6%, plus Kansas City’s rate of 2.8750%, plus additional 2% for the “restaurant tax on prepared food.”

If you’re shopping in an area that’s part of a Transportation Development District (TDD) or a Community Improvement District (CID), an additional sales tax could be levied on a purchase.  The proceeds collected from that sales tax are then used by the property owner for improvements to the roads and common areas of the shopping center.  For instance, if the McDonald's moved a different part of 64th Street, there could be an additional tax for a TDD.

The Missouri Department of Revenue has a chart on their website listed municipalities and the sales tax rates and the City of Kansas City also lists the rates for these special districts. 
The county and state sales tax is 5.600% and is broken down as follows...

            4.225%            Missouri portion
                        3.0%                Missouri general revenue
                        1.0%                Missouri education
                        0.125%            Missouri conservation
                        0.1%                Missouri parks and soil
            1.375%            Platte County portion
                        0.5%                Platte County general revenue
0.5%                Platte County parks/trails/storm
                        0.375%            Platte County roads

MO DOR’s website has the following rate listing by jurisdiction

However, Kansas City has an additional sales tax for different things and those rates can be found at the KCMO website

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May sales tax numbers

April showers bring May... positive sales tax numbers?  Platte County general sales tax receipts up 54% (fifty-four) over May 2013.   Use tax up 50.1%.  Full report out next week.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

April Sales Tax Down; Still Up For Year

Sales tax receipts for April 2014 were down over 5% compared to April 2013, while the use tax fell 55%.  While the use tax is down for the same period compared to 2013, the county sales tax receipts are still up for the year by 2.3%

The full report is available online at