Branson, Mo., August 5, 2012 – “They” are the City of Branson, Taney County, Branson Landing Transportation Development District, Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District, Taney County Ambulance District, all of whom have made the intentional decision not to join the State of Missouri in providing sales tax relief for certain back-to-school purchases during Missouri’s “Back To School, Sales Tax Holiday, (Tax Holiday)” this weekend. If it wasn’t so sad and ludicrous it would be funny. No, wait, even in its sadness and ludicrousness, and although “dark humor,” it’s funny.
“What’s so funny,” some might ask? Well for starters, how about the fact the city that markets itself to the world as such a caring “family” destination has elected, in these economically tough and trying times for families, not to participate in the Tax Holiday. This denies help with back to school expenses for the families in their own community and visitors alike. “But, Seagull, that’s not funny, it’s sad.”
To the Ole Seagull it’s both sad and funny, because, not too long ago, the city of Branson said, “It had to do the right thing,” when it decided to ratify what was, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, an illegal and unconscionable contract to pay millions of dollars under an allegedly unconstitutional contract. That was as sad as it was laughable, but what happened to “the right thing” when it came to helping Branson’s residents and visitors by participating in the Tax Holiday and forgoing its 1.5% retail sales tax on the limited back to school items it applies to for the three days of the Holiday?
Add to that the fact that Taney County, with its 1.62% Retail Sales and Jail Tax, Taney County Ambulance Service with its .25% Retail Sales Tax and the Branson Landing Transportation Development District with its 1% Retail Sales Tax also opted out. So far, that’s a total of 4.37% of potential Tax Holiday benefits that a shopper at Branson Landing doesn’t get, but “They” have, in the opinion of the Ole Seagull, saved the saddest and funniest for last.
The Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (BLATCED)” with its 1.0% Retail Sales Tax also opted out from the Tax Holiday bringing the total of the lost Tax Holiday benefit to 5.37% which is more than 100% greater than the state’s 4.23%. To an Ole Seagull this is really funny because the sole purpose of the BLATCED is ” promoting tourism in the district.”
Now recognizing that an Ole Seagull is, but an Ole Seagull, he just has to ask, “Which of the following would promote tourism more in the district?” A marketing campaign trumpeting the State of Missouri’s “Back To School, Sales Tax Holiday” and the fact that the BLATCED is actively participating along with the City of Branson and other retail taxing entities within the district offering a 9.6% benefit or one marketing the fact that the benefit in Branson will only be 4.23% because the BLATCED, along with the City of Branson and other retail taxing entities within the district, is not participating in the Tax Holiday?
“But Seagull, ‘They’ are not going to market the fact that ‘They’ aren’t participating in the Tax Holiday.” “You can bet on it, but what a missed opportunity for a marketing effort to bring even more people to Branson, many for the first time, to go to our shows and attractions, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, purchase goods etc., while paying sales tax on those items not covered by the Tax Holiday.
To an Ole Seagull however, the most egregious part of their action is that “They” had an opportunity to help the families in our own community save some money in these economically stressed times and chose not to. These are the people, many of who work for minimum wage, who pay the retail sales tax day after day on purchase after purchase.
They are also the people who are asked to vote on new taxes and the renewing of certain taxes such as the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District tax which will come up for renewal in the not too distant future. For what it matters, an Ole Seagull would suggest that “They” be shown the same respect and consideration that they have shown us as we “Remember the No ‘Back To School, Sales Tax Holiday” when “They” want more taxes.