After a court battle, Missourians will be able to vote on the so called “double taxation” amendment, which deals with real estate taxes.

A transfer tax can be imposed by state or local governments, and is collected when you transfer ownership of your home, land or other real estate. Chuck Hatfield, the Attorney for the group sponsoring the amendment, explains why they call this the ‘double taxation’ amendment.

“You pay property tax yearly on the real estate you own, the houses you own, etc. So you’re already paying taxes on your property. To require another tax at transfer just doesn’t really make any sense and it’s a way of taxing property that’s already been taxed,” Hatfield said.

The unusual thing about the proposed amendment is that Missouri doesn’t have a transfer tax right now. This would just stop one from being created.

“Obviously in tough economic times governments start looking for more money, so there were concerns that some jurisdictions may impose transfer taxes. This will make sure and get ahead of the problem and prevent it,” Hatfield said.       

Hatfield says other states are actually considering similar measures.

“I think we’re one of the first, but several states are right now looking at initiative petitions similar to what Missouri just did in order to prohibit transfer taxes. This is an effort that’s really been led by the Association of REALTORS. It’s a national issue that the National Association of REALTORS have been working on for quite a while, actually,” Hatfield said.

The group says 37 states do have a transfer tax or its equivilant, including every state the borders Missouri.

It looked like the constitutional amendment wasn’t going to make it on the November ballot after the Secretary of State did not certify the initiative petition, saying it didn’t have enough signatures. But it was close.

Hatfield took issue with the fact that many of the signatures were thrown out because some of the petitioners didn’t register correctly. He says he understands the reason for that rule, but still argued against it in court.

“There’s really nothing wrong with that. But where the problem comes in is that if you have the unlucky fortune of signing a petition and the person later forgets to register, your vote doesn’t count on that initiative petition. It raises some pretty serious constitutional issues which the court recognized,” Hatfield said.

After Cole County Circuit Judge Paul Wilson ruled in favor of the sponsors of the proposal, the Secretary of State filed an appeal. But Hatfield says they were able to work through the problem with the Secretary of State’s attorneys by getting the judge to agree to some changes to the language in the court opinion.

“(Missourians) will still see the exact measure on the ballot that they would have seen before. The Secretary of State was concerned with some of the language in the court’s opinion and whether it might affect other initiatives in the future. The “Vote Yes” committee wasn’t too concerned about making precedent or in any way affecting the ongoing initiative petition process. We just want to make sure people have the chance to vote on this measure in November,” Hatfield said.

The Measure will appear in this form on the November ballot as “Constitutional Amendment 3:”

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing any new tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate?

It is estimated this proposal will have no costs or savings to state or local governmental entities.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing any new tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate.

A “no” vote will not change the Missouri Constitution to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing a new tax on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate.

If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]