The sales tax you pay when you buy a vehicle in Missouri will soon be collected at the car dealership. Gov. Mike Parson has signed a bill into law that will shift away from the traditional practice of letting car buyers pay the bill at a driver’s license office at a later date.

Rep. Michael O’Donnell, R-St. Louis County, said his effort is meant to crack down on expired temporary license plates that are often seen on Missouri roads.

“We’re optimistic that it’s going to definitely take a huge chunk, I would say a 90 plus percent bite out of anything going forward. I really do think it’ll help a lot of folks that really could just use the financing method to kind of get the monkey off their back, to get the taxes paid, and move on with their lives,” said O’Donnell. “I think what’s driving this is the fact that folks have to come up with such a large lump of money in conjunction with buying a car. And I hear a lot of folks say, ‘well don’t buy the car if you can’t afford the tax,’ and I get that. My head’s kind of in the same place as well. But you might have somebody that had a car totaled and needs to buy a new car, and here they are at ground zero, they’ve got no money.”

Car dealers could roll the sales tax into the monthly car payments for buyers.

The change could take about two years because the state is working to get a new computer system up and running to accomplish this task.

“At one point the Department of Revenue was estimating somewhere between $40 million and $80 million of lost revenue because folks weren’t paying their sales tax. So that in itself should quickly pay for the cost of the computer system that we had to buy,” said O’Donnell.

Missouri will join about 47 U.S. states who already collect sales tax this way.

“The shame of it is that we’re so far behind other states and think this just kind of catches us up with where we should have been for a long time,” he said. “I think one of the biggest deterrents was the cost of the system that would allow the auto dealers to connect to the Department of Revenue.”

Senate Bill 398, sponsored by Sen. Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles County, also includes a ban on texting while driving for all people behind the wheel driving in the Show-Me State – with exceptions for law enforcement and emergency services workers. Drivers will still be able to use their voice-activated or hands-free options to make phone calls and for texting purposes.

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