KANSAS CITY — Cash-strapped legislators have recommended spending cuts for Missouri schools and shelters for battered women, but so far the yachting class can enjoy another season of clear sailing.
Thanks to a longstanding tax exemption, Missouri's marina set can opt to pay a small fee in lieu of sales taxes and shave as much as $30,000 off the purchase of a $500,000 boat.
That tax exemption alone is depriving state and local coffers of more than $6 million a year, according to some estimates. It's just one of more than 130 untaxed transactions that are getting renewed attention in Jefferson City because of the state’s continuing budget crisis.
For now, however, yachts are treated like baby formula for the poor, tickets to the state fair and even newsprint —all are exempt from state and local sales taxes.
But if you're buying a small bass boat or runabout, forget about any tax breaks. You'll pay the full load.
"One person's tax exemption is another person's loophole," said Ted Farnen, a spokesman for the state's Department of Revenue, which takes no position on the issue.
Of the 650,000 boats registered in Missouri, more than 16,000 qualified for the exemption, according to the Revenue Department, but no one knows precisely how much the big boat or other state sales tax exemptions cost Missouri taxpayers.
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