Franklin County voters next Tuesday will be asked whether they want to impose a 1.5 percent countywide use tax on themselves.

Local officials have touted the use tax as a way to level the playing field for local businesses and bring more revenue to the county’s coffers.

A use tax could help local businesses by taking away the incentive for people to shop out of state to avoid taxation, officials say.

It would be paid when certain products were purchased out of state and brought back to Franklin County for use. Internet purchases are also subject to use tax, according to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

A use tax would not have to be paid when out-of-state purchases were less than $2,000 a year.

Moreover, officials say the use tax would not have to be paid when sales tax was charged where the item was purchased out of state. This means there is no double taxation, officials have said.

The Franklin County Commission voted earlier this year to put the use tax question on the ballot for the April 8 election.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer has said that the use tax would generate revenue to help the county provide services.

With the county’s debt, which is currently at $49.9 million for roadwork and construction projects, it is a struggle to find revenue to meet needs, Griesheimer has said.

Officials have been unable to predict what the revenue would be from a use tax. But the revenue from the use tax would be divided evenly between the county’s three sales tax funds of law enforcement, road and bridge and general revenue.

The city of Washington and the state of Missouri already have use taxes. The city’s is 2 percent and the state’s is 4.225 percent.

The countywide use tax on the ballot for next Tuesday would be in addition to the use taxes already being charged by the state and city of Washington.

Surrounding counties of Warren, St. Charles and Washington already have a use tax, according to Griesheimer.

In Missouri, 56 out of 114 counties have a use tax.

Ballot Language

The ballot language approved by the county commission for the use tax vote is:

“Shall Franklin County impose a local use tax at the same rate as the total sales tax rate, currently 1 ½ percent, provided that if the local sales tax rate is reduced or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be reduced or raised by the same action? The revenue raised by the use tax shall be allocated one-half percent to county law enforcement purposes, one-half percent to county road and bridge purposes and one-half percent to county general fund purposes. A use tax return shall not be required to be filed by persons whose purchases from out-of-state vendors do not exceed two thousand dollars in any calendar year.

“If you are in favor of imposing the local use tax vote yes; if you are opposed vote no.”