Voters in several jurisdictions in the county will vote on the issue on April 3. 

Voters in three Texas County municipalities and across the county will vote on a measure April 3 that is aimed at leveling the playing field for local retailers in the Internet age, where more sales are completed online.

It is called a local “use tax,” but it doesn’t represent another tax that is added to the local tax rolls.

Howell and Texas counties — along with Houston, Licking, Cabool and Texas County Emergency Services Board — are all asking residents to allow the “use tax” to be added to out-of-state purchases. It doesn’t apply to purchases made locally.

 A “yes” vote would allow the various services performed by cities and counties to continue. E-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2017 accounted for 8.4 percent of total sales in the country, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. That fact has led to flat sales tax reports based on local sales.

PDF: Frequently asked questions

So how does the use tax work? On a $1,000 purchase, a customer in Houston would still pay $76 in sales tax (The state gets the lion’s share – $42.25; city, $15.00; and county, $18.75). With the use tax in place, the sales tax would be the same on an out-of-state purchase, if the measure passes.

In Houston, city leaders said the revenue from the use tax would be used to pay police/fire personnel, roads, sidewalks, parks and emergency vehicles/equipment. The city is available to make information presentations about the issue. Groups wanting additional information can call Houston City Hall at 417-967-3348.

PDF: About the issue

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