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Missouri would not tax brain cancer treatment devices if bill becomes law


May 5, 2021 - An amendment to a bill today would stop the State of Missouri from collecting sales and use taxes on brain cancer treatment devices.


Rep. Dr. Lisa Thomas sponsored House Amendment 6 on Senate Bill 226, a bill sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote with no opposition.


The amendment contained the same language as SB 483, also sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, which passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee on March 25, 2021.

Rep. Lisa Thomas, photo courtesy Tim Bommel, Missouri House of Representatives

"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.


Rep. Tracy McCreery, a leading Democrat, also spoke in favor of the amendment and asked for passage.


"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 Ray McCarty president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "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.


"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," he said.


The bill must return to the Senate and may be accepted or the amendments may be further deliberated in conference. The 2021 Legislative Session ends May 14 at 6:00 p.m.


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