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Head of earnings tax review committee expects better information in St. Louis meeting

Missouri State Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, during a ribbon cutting for the state’s first baby box at the Mehlville Fire Protection District Station 2 in Mehlville.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri state Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, pictured in August, is chairing a committee looking at earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City.

The chair of a Missouri House committee examining city earnings taxes said he expects to hear more detailed information from St. Louis officials during a meeting Monday afternoon.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, said he wanted to have one of the meetings in St. Louis to make it more convenient for the public. The meeting will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Louis Community College.

“There's constituents out there that can travel to Forest Park that would maybe not be able to make it to the Capitol,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he was not satisfied by the comments given by city Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly at the committee’s first meeting in Jefferson City and expects different testimony this time from St. Louis.

“I think we're going to hear a whole different set of facts from the city. I think they're going to send in, you know, the people that control the money and understand the budget,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the committee is still gathering information and suggestions on ways to move forward.

“No conclusions are made. It's just an information-gathering period, which is the purpose of the committee to begin with,” Murphy said.

However, Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, said it’s interesting how much time is being spent examining the earnings tax when it consistently is approved by voters.

“This is something that has been wildly popular with voters, and it is a significant portion of Kansas City and St. Louis' forms of revenue, and the vast majority of the tax goes to pay for public safety,” Nurrenbern said.

Although Murphy said he isn’t eager to reach any conclusions until hearing from all parties that would be affected, he said the committee will probably address the matter of remote workers getting a refund from the earnings tax.

“They couldn't even give us a good reason why they think it was all right to change their rules in the middle of the game and have one set of rules before COVID, one set after COVID, and ongoing, we don't think that's right,” Murphy said.

Nurrenbern said addressing that seems reasonable to her.

“I think the concerns with the remote work reimbursement that Kansas City currently does is something that should probably be replicated in St. Louis,” Nurrenbern said.

In addition to the earnings tax, Murphy said the meeting will address real estate taxes, specifically a loophole on tax increases.

He said the loophole allows political subdivisions, including school boards, to not roll back tax rates to match an increase in assessment.

The committee will meet once more in November. That meeting will be in Kansas City.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.