JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says a tax cut bill would allow residents to retroactively benefit from a tax reduction.
In a three-page letter to House Speaker Tim Jones last week, Koster sided with Gov. Jay Nixon. Nixon has claimed the bill could trigger refunds.
"Here the plain language of the statute alters the tax rate not just for the year the new provision becomes effective and onward, but expressly alters the tax rates for the tax years 'before' that year," the attorney general wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 29.
"If the General Assembly did not intend that taxpayers should get any benefit from the backward-looking change, why include that language?"
Jones, a Republican, released a memorandum Aug. 14 from the General Assembly's Legislative Research Department that refutes claims made by Nixon, a Democrat.
The same day, Jones submitted a letter to Koster -- a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2016 -- formally requesting the attorney general's legal opinion on the provision in House Bill 253 dealing with the federal Marketplace Fairness Act and what Nixon claims would be a retroactive tax cut.
The MFA, currently pending in Congress, would enable state governments to collect sales taxes and use taxes from remote retailers with no physical presence in their state.
"The governor has taken great liberties with the truth during his campaign against the most significant tax cut Missourians have seen in nearly a century," Jones said in a statement last month. "His claims of a retroactive tax cut that would generate a significant revenue shortfall are sensationalized talking points and not in any way based on statutory reality or legal precedent."
At the time, Jones said he was "confident" Koster, a Republican-turned-Democrat, would come to the same conclusion as the legislative research division.
Nixon, a former state attorney general, vetoed HB 253 earlier this summer.
However, some members of the General Assembly, including Jones, have expressed their intent to override the veto at the annual veto session this month.
"Over the past five years, we've held the line on taxes and kept Missouri a low-tax state. I intend to keep it that way," the governor said last month at Greentree Pharmacy in Kirkwood, Mo.
"House Bill 253 is a tax increase that folks, especially older Missourians, don't deserve and can't afford."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.