Missouri’s Tobacco Tax

If you are a smoker in Missouri, then you may be looking at paying higher taxes on cigarettes in the near future.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association has filed two petitions hoping to raise the state’s cigarette tax to 40 cents a pack – equivalent to a whopping 135 percent increase.

One of the proposals seeks to use the income from cigarette taxes for transportation funding. If it passes, then the state could see an extra $800 million over the next 10 years for expenses related to transportation matters. The other proposal would have the proceeds going to the state’s general revenue fund.

That doesn’t sound so bad, in the grand scheme of things. But for smokers, the proposed tax is less than welcomed.

As it stands, Missouri’s cigarette tax is currently 17 cents a pack, the lowest of any state in the nation. The proposed tax would also be joined by an increase in overall sales prices, starting at an additional 13-cent tax per pack (which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017), followed by an extra 5 cents on Jan. 1, 2019, and then another 5 cents on Jan. 1, 2021.

Furthermore, the group is also trying to pass a hefty 50 percent tax increase on other tobacco products.

Their actions are not being received with open arms by local taxpayers, who have rejected all three of the proposed tobacco tax increases that have been introduced in Missouri since 2002.

Also working against the tax hikes is the fact that there are no new transportation projects planned for Missouri in the next five years. If the proposal that has proceeds being allocated toward transportation costs passes, that means locals would be taxed on their cigarettes, but the revenue would be pretty much going into a stagnant funding account.

Let’s see, taxpayers will have to cough up a huge amount in taxes when purchasing cigarettes and the money is not even going to be used for any purpose that would benefit the state. It sounds like the pros of the tax don’t outweigh the cons.

As any tax attorney in Missouri can explain, residents already have their hands full with paying taxes as it is. The last thing they need is a huge increase in tobacco taxes to add insult to injury.

Locals can always get their cigarettes elsewhere, but the inconvenience will still persist. At least nothing has been decided upon as of yet and the tax hikes are merely proposals. Either way, locals won’t be thrilled about the idea of having to pay a significantly higher rate in cigarette taxes.