The Missouri Senate has approved an important bill that would grant all Missouri businesses a basic right in tax court: innocence until proven guilty.
Under current state law, many Missouri companies are actually presumed guilty when the Missouri Department of Revenue chooses to bring them to court in a tax dispute. This prejudiced standard applies to companies with more than 500 employees and a net worth of greater than $7 million. All other taxpayers—individuals and smaller companies—are presumed innocent unless the Department of Revenue can establish guilt.
Sen. Will Kraus’ Senate Bill 829 would remove the double standard, granting all Missouri businesses and individuals the same innocent-until-proven-guilty standing in tax court. Sen. Kraus is a Republican from Lee’s Summit.
“A presumption of guilt is a biased standard that does not reflect the fairness we expect from our American legal system. Making matters even worse is that our existing statutes single out a specific class of taxpayers, holding them to a different, harsher standard than everyone else,” said Daniel P. Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It’s time to wipe this double standard from the books. Fortunately, it appears there is significant momentum this year in both the House and Senate chambers to get the job done.”
A similar bill by Rep. Denny Hoskins, a Republican from Warrensburg, was approved in House committee and then recently approved in the House by a 130-13 bipartisan vote. Rep. Hoskins bill is House Bill 1455.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.