Bill to exempt brain cancer treatment devices from sales tax awaits Gov. Parson's signature
July 7, 2021 - SB 226, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig and handled in the House by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, would exempt devices used to treat brain cancer from sales and use taxes. The bill also changes filing frequencies for sales and use taxes, allows property tax rebates for the period of time businesses were closed by local government officials due to the pandemic, allow entertainment venues to retain a portion of state sales taxes collected on ticket sales as they recover from the pandemic, and more. The bill is on Governor Mike Parson's desk, awaiting his approval.
The cancer treatment device amendment, also sponsored by Sen. Koenig and added to the bill as an amendment by Rep. Dr. Lisa Thomas, is one of the most important parts of the bill, according to Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri.
"While the Missouri Department of Revenue regularly takes positions harmful to taxpayers, there is no worse decision they have made in recent memory than insisting on collecting tax on this equipment used to treat brain cancer that allows cancer patients to extend their life a little longer and helps improve their quality of life," said McCarty. "The State of Missouri should be able to find their tax dollars somewhere besides in the pockets of cancer patients. Cancer patients using these devices are currently paying the tax in the price they pay for the devices," he said.
Associated Industries of Missouri had previously added language to the exemption statutes that should have covered the devices as "durable medical equipment" but the Missouri Department of Revenue refused to recognize the exemption, saying the new language that was adopted in the 2010's only applied if the durable medical equipment existed in 1980.
"For many years, the Department of Revenue has refused to classify an important piece of medical equipment used in the treatment of brain cancer, as Durable Medical Equipment (DME)," Rep. Thomas said. "Consequently, patients have had to pay sales tax when purchasing and using this technology. The devices, which are wearable and portable, deliver low intensity and alternating electric fields targeted to the most common and deadliest form of primary brain tumor known as glioblastoma. This treatment is an alternative to chemotherapy and allows patients to maintain an active lifestyle without the side effects typically associated with chemotherapy. Multiple efforts to work with the Department of Revenue to reclassify these devices have been unsuccessful so now it is time to make the change via statute and eliminate the sales tax. This is a quality-of-life issue for patients undergoing treatment for a terrible brain cancer,” she said.
"This is another example of a strained interpretation of law by the Missouri Department of Revenue lawyers reaching a strained conclusion that hurts Missouri taxpayers," said McCarty. "While the DOR has taken many positions like this, none is more offensive than their decision to deny a sales tax exemption to cancer patients. We are very happy the Missouri legislature has now adopted language to make this crystal clear - the State of Missouri should not tax these brain cancer treatment devices, and we sincerely hope Governor Parson will sign this bill," he said.