Missouri Real Estate Taxation, Amendment 3 (2010)
On May 2, 2010, the state's petition drive deadline, supporters of the proposed amendment filed signatures in an effort to qualify the initiative for the 2010 ballot. However, they declined to disclose an estimated number of signatures. On August 3, the final day to verify submitted signatures, the secretary of state announced that the measure failed to qualify.
The Missouri Association of Realtors announced, shortly after August 3, that they planned to file a lawsuit against the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State contesting the determination that they did not collect sufficient signatures to qualify the amendment for the November 2, 2010 ballot.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
|Missouri Amendment 3 (2010)|
Election results via Missouri Secretary of State
Text of measure
The official ballot title read as follows:
Fair Ballot Language
A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing any new tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate.
A "no" vote will not change the Missouri Constitution to prevent the state, counties, and other political subdivisions from imposing a new tax on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes. 
Real Estate Double Taxation Initiative Petition, 5/2/10
The main campaign in support of the proposed initiative was Vote YES to Stop Double Taxation Committee. Elizabeth Mendenhall, spokesperson for the committee and president of the Missouri Association of Realtors said, "This unfair double taxation can happen in Missouri under current law. We are asking voters to keep politicians from penalizing Missourians with such a bad tax policy."
"We're already paying a property tax and in some situations, the average home is more than $1000/year. The transfer tax would be on top of that," said Mike Green, a realtor with Murney Associates.
- The campaign effort in support of the amendment received a total of $600,000 in contributions as of early May 2010. According to reports the majority of funds came from a PAC associated with the Missouri Association of Realtors.
- In September 2010 the "Vote Yes to Stop Double Taxation" committee received $3 million from statewide and national real estate trade groups. Specifically, the National Association of Realtors donated $1.2 million, while the Missouri Association of Realtors PAC donated $1.8 million.
Tactics and strategies
- Missouri supporters, including realtors, staged a rally at the Lake of the Ozarks on October 1, 2010.
According to reports, there was no organized opposition to Amendment 3.
Peter Salsich, professor of law at Saint Louis University, said that incorporating the exclusion of transfer taxes into the state constitution sets a bad precedent. "The ideal way (to amend the constitution) is through debate in the general assembly. The constitution should be a document of fundamental principles," said Salsich.
Media editorial positions
- Southeast Missourian said, " Recommendation: Approve. Property owners already pay property taxes. This amendment curtails one possibility for double taxation on real estate and prevents additional complications -- and delays -- in real estate transfers."
- Hannibal Courier-Post said, "The effort is a pre-emptive move to keep tax-hungry legislators from imposing such a fee. The tax might make sense in good times. But with the economy still lagging, now is not the time to make people open their wallets even wider. While such a transfer tax hasn’t been proposed yet in Jefferson City, you can bet your last dollar that the idea is percolating. Missouri is one of 13 states without such a tax, and voters should make sure it stays that way."
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, "We understand the real estate market is fragile right now. But voting on the measure in the abstract makes it impossible to weigh the pros and cons. It seems premature to vote now."
- Kansas City Star said, "..the Missouri Constitution shouldn’t be used as a hammer for various causes. And Missouri voters should be wary of permanently sealing off revenue options. A transfer tax may or may not be wrong for Missouri. But that should be decided by lawmakers, after a full airing of the pros and cons."
Path to the ballot
- See also: Missouri signature requirements
To qualify for the ballot, each initiative required signatures from registered voters equal to 8% of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of the state's nine congressional districts. On May 2, 2010, the state's petition drive deadline, supporters of the proposed amendment filed signatures in an effort to qualify the initiative for the 2010 ballot. However, they declined to disclose an estimated number of signatures. The Missouri Secretary of State had until August 3 to verify the submitted signatures. On August 3, the secretary of state announced that the measure failed to qualify.
The Missouri Association of Realtors announced, shortly after August 3, that they planned to file a lawsuit against the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State contesting the determination that they did not collect sufficient signatures to qualify the amendment for the November 2, 2010 ballot. On August 31, the measure was referred to the ballot following a Cole County Circuit Court ruling on August 31.
- See also: 2010 ballot measure litigation
Following the rejection of numerous signatures and disqualification from the 2010 ballot by the Missouri Secretary of State supporters filed a lawsuit contending the validity of the signatures that were not counted. Cole County Circuit Judge Paul Wilson heard the case on August 20, 2010.
Judge Wilson ruled on August 31 the measure should be added to the November 2010 general election ballot. Wilson said that ignoring the submitted signatures was an infringement of the constitutional rights of those that signed the petitions. Additionally, the judge said that the technical errors that resulted in the disqualification of several signatures was not beyond the control of the voters and not enough for the court to invalidate the signatures.
Following the court's ruling, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said her office planned to file an appeal because Judge Wilson questioned the constitutionality of state rules. According to reports, attorneys for initiative supporters, the secretary of state's office and Attorney General Chris Koster jointly asked Wilson to modify his original ruling in exchange for dropping the appeal. On September 2 Judge Wilson rescinded his original ruling and instead simply issued that the measure appear on the ballot without explanation of his decision. The state dropped their appeal.
Similar measures that were being considered in other states follow:
- In Montana, an initiative effort gathered signatures for a measure that sought to eliminate real estate or realty transfer tax. The tax, according to Montana law, was implemented when a sale was closed or if property was being transferred, along with other fees. The Montana Association of Realtors submitted their proposal to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch's office in mid-December, kicking off a state review of the ballot language. The measure was then been approved for circulation and later for placement on the ballot. The measure was approved.
- Missouri 2010 ballot measures
- 2010 ballot measures
- List of Missouri ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Missouri
- Missouri measures successfully approved, one remains pending
- Missouri real estate taxation amendment certified, appeal dropped
- Missouri court thrusts real estate amendment onto the 2010 ballot
- Missouri court reviews real estate tax measure for 2010 ballot
- Realtors in Missouri plan to sue SOS Carnahan over signature rejection
- Missouri election officials certify 2 of 4 initiative petitions for November ballot
- Four initiatives aim for the Missouri ballot
- University of Missouri Institute for Public Policy, "Constitutional Amendments, Statutory Revision and Referenda Submitted to the Voters by the General Assembly or by Initiative Petition, 1910–2010," accessed May 20, 2014
- Bolivar Herald-Free Press, "Missouri Realtors go proactive against real estate transfer tax," February 17, 2010
- Southeast Missourian, "Amendment 3 would stop real estate transfer tax," October 22, 2010
- Watchdog.org, "Four initiatives aim for the Missouri ballot," May 2, 2010
- Associated Press, "Missouri measure filed to bar tax on home sales," May 2, 2010
- Active Rain, "Missouri Real Estate News: Ballot Proposition Sponsored by the Missouri Association of REALTORS to Ban Transfer Taxes on Sale of Real Estate Rejected by Missouri Secretary of State due to Insufficient Signatures," August 3, 2010
- News Tribune, "Judge orders statewide tax vote," September 1, 2010 (dead link)
- Missouri Secretary of State, "2010 Ballot Measures," accessed September 27, 2010
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Missouri Constitution, "Article X-Taxation"
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Mo. Realtors making ballot bid to ban transfer taxes," May 3, 2010
- KY3, "Supporters say Amendment 3 Would Ban Double Taxation," October 18, 2010 (dead link)
- Associated Press, "Mo. Lt. Gov. Kinder backs proposed amendment barring real estate transfer taxes," October 26, 2010 (dead link)
- The Kansas City Star, "Money, money, money fuels Missouri petition drives," May 4, 2010
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Real estate agents pour $3.2 million into transfer tax campaign," September 16, 2010
- Missourian, "Out-of-state donors backing Missouri ballot issue campaigns," October 1, 2010
- OzarksFirst.com, "Missouri Realtors Rally for Amendment 3," October 1, 2010 (dead link)
- Missourian, "Pre-emptive strike against real estate tax on November ballot," October 19, 2010
- South County Times, "Nov. 3 Measure Would Prevent Governments From Imposing Transfer Tax On Real Estate," October 1, 2010
- Southeast Missourian, "Ballot initiatives," October 26, 2010
- Hannibal Courier-Post, "Recommendations on amendments," October 28, 2010
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Yes on Proposition B," October 21, 2010
- Kansas City Star, "Reject two unneeded Missouri ballot issues on taxation, assessors," October 6, 2010
- Associated Press, "Mo. judge mulls whether real estate tax measure qualified for November ballot," August 20, 2010
- REJournalOnline.com, "Real Estate Tax To Appear In Missouri Fall Ballots, According To Court Ruling," September 1, 2010
- Kansas City Star, "Ballot measure on real-estate transfer tax cleared by judge," August 31, 2010 (dead link)
- Associated Press, "Mo. drops appeal of real estate ballot measure," September 6, 2010
- News Tribune, "State to vote on real estate amendment," September 4, 2010
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