Stanley Robinson

Princeton, Mo.

To the editor:

An interview of state Sen. Brad Lager was broadcast on our local radio station recently. The good senator rightfully believes government should not be in the business of picking “winners and losers.” I contend the current Missouri sales tax does just that.

If I buy a piece of farm equipment today, the purchase is exempt from Missouri sales tax. In fact, most items necessary to the operation of a farm business are sales tax exempt.

Our local grocery store recently installed new coolers for storage and display of perishable food. The owner is a personal acquaintance, and he assured me he had to pay sales tax on the new coolers.

How is a corn planter more deserving of tax exemption than grocery store coolers? Why should a hay rake be sales tax exempt, but the purchase of a restaurant cook stove be taxable? It would appear the importance of the equipment to the operation of the business is not a consideration for exemption. Is this not government picking of “winners and losers?” Is this not an example of unfair taxation?

As an exercise in thinking, how about a half of 1 percent levy on all commercial transactions. No exemptions. Your $100 grocery bill with sales tax would be $100.50, not the current $104.23. Talking to your lawyer at $100 per hour would cost an extra $0.50. A $300,000 combine would increase $1,500.

If fairness in the tax code is truly Senator Lager’s goal, and not just a political smoke screen, then the subject warrants open discussion.