There you go again – Ronald Reagan, 1980

During the 1980 presidential race, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan faced off in a debate.  Carter accused Reagan of being against something and Reagan replied, “There you go again,” instantly making the phrase an enduring part of the American lexicon. The same can be said of opponents of tax reform in Missouri: There you go again!

The Missouri Association of Realtors (MAR) has taken a position against the nine (9) initiative petitions that have been filed, all of which eliminate the personal income tax and replace it with a consumer-driven sales tax.  MAR’s opposition isn’t the issue.  They obviously don’t understand the impact of the proposal, nor that a real-world working model has made Tennessee an economic force larger than Missouri.  No, the problem is the misrepresentation of the various initiatives.

MAR falsely claims that the nine (9) initiative petitions would overturn Amendment 3, which prevents any transfer or sales tax on home sales, new or previously owned. In fact, the language in the petitions prohibits these taxes from being placed on any real estate transaction, whether home or business. The problem with MAR’s stated opposition is that none of the initiatives even come close to overturning Amendment 3.

Each one of the initiatives exempts the “sales of real property,” which includes homes, commercial buildings, etc. from being taxed.  It’s plain, simple and straightforward.  If MAR or anyone else wants to read it, they simply have to go to the last page of every petition and find it.

The real reason for MAR’s opposition is that the current nine (9) initiatives do not specifically exempt a sales tax on real estate commissions.  It should be noted that Amendment 3 did not specifically exempt real estate commissions, either.  The MAR argument would be more relevant and understandable if the group had simply been forthright and stated its concern.

I think the commission issue is a valid topic for discussion.  However, MAR appears to think that the general public may not have as much sympathy if the focus were on commissions.  The group does, however, understand that people are concerned about the potential for having to pay a sales tax to buy a home.

MAR has another problem — the individual Realtors in their local communities aren’t necessarily buying into the association’s opposition. MAR has chosen a false issue in an attempt to create fear among the public and among association members.

MAR raises some additional oppositions to the initiatives, all of which can easily be refuted. These types of false, misleading attacks damage MAR’s credibility.  Once the public finds out the association’s argument was more about commissions and less about the sale of real estate, they won’t be so sympathetic.