NEWS RELEASE – Innocent until proven guilty: House votes to extend basic right to all businesses

 Arriving in court, the common assumption is innocence until proven guilty. Yet in Missouri, that right does not always apply to some businesses.

When the Missouri Department of Revenue chooses to take a company to court in a tax dispute, the company is actually presumed guilty unless it can prove otherwise. This unfair standard applies to Missouri 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.

Today, the Missouri House of Representatives voted to end this bias against Missouri’s employers on a vote of 130-13. In approving House Bill 1455, sponsored by Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, Missouri lawmakers are working toward bringing fairness to our state’s tax courts. The bill would allow all Missouri taxpayers to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

“Fairness is the cornerstone of a functional legal system. Yet, in Missouri’s tax courts, we have different rules depending on who you are. It’s a biased system,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO. “We would like to applaud the House for making legal fairness a priority this session, as well as thank the Senators working on a similar measure in that chamber.”

Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, has parallel language in Senate Bill 829. The Senate legislation has been passed by committee and awaits approval by the entire Senate.