Gov. Parson vetoes bill, but supports exempting brain cancer treatment devices from sales tax
July 9, 2021 - SB 226, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig and handled in the House by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, would have exempted devices used to treat brain cancer from sales and use taxes. But the bill also would have allowed property tax rebates for the period of time businesses were closed by local government officials due to the pandemic and allowed entertainment venues to retain a portion of state sales taxes collected on ticket sales as they recover from the pandemic. It was these provisions that drew the veto, according to Governor Mike Parson's veto letter.
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.
The Governor seemed to agree, writing in his veto letter, "Regrettably, section 144.813, providing a sales tax exemption for certain cancer treatment devices, would have provided tax relief for Missourians fighting rare cancers. I am supportive of this tax deduction, which is consistent with other related medical devices and provides appropriate state tax relief."
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.
McCarty vowed to continue pushing for a change in the way the current law is applied.
"This is another example of a strained interpretation of law by the Missouri Department of Revenue lawyers reaching a 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. While we are very happy the Missouri legislature adopted language to make this crystal clear, the language would not be necessary if the Department of Revenue would follow the intent of the language in existing law and we will be working with Governor Parson's office and the Department toward that end," he said.