Today is the deadline for filing income taxes. If a resolution moving forward in the House finds its way into law, Missourians wouldn’t have to bother with filing state income taxes at all.

Sponsor Ed Emery (R-Lamar) calls it the "Fair Tax". HCS HJR 36 would raise the state sales tax from 4.225% to 5.11%. Nearly all sales tax exemptions would be eliminated. State individual income taxes and corporate income taxes would be eliminated.

"It would eliminate government’s control over how we spend our money," Emery tells colleagues during House floor debate. "It is more stable than the income tax. It will catch the thieves and the cheaters and the illegals, because they will be paying taxes where they are not now. It would provide a real incentive for moving businesses to Missouri."

Some question Emery on that point. Critics charge that while state economic development efforts might well benefit from the elimination of the corporate income tax, the proposal would leave the state with less flexibility to offer incentives to corporations considering investments in Missouri.

Emery counters that the attraction of a simplified tax system and the elimination of income taxes would be compelling enough to lure both individuals and corporations to the state. Emery says his proposal is meant to be revenue neutral, meaning the state wouldn’t lose or gain revenue.

Rep. J. C. Kuessner (D-Eminence) says it’s intriguing, but not practical.

"We have something here that is interesting," Kuessner says, "It’s even possible that this could be done in a state that doesn’t have oil and gas and some of the natural resources that help supplement the state budget, but coming from where I’m at and what I see it just won’t work."

It gains preliminary approval and must win a final vote to move to the Senate. If the legislature approves it, it goes to a vote of the people

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (1:25 MP3)