JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson has said “the average person” will benefit from his special legislative session on car sales, but companies with fleets of vehicles also stand to gain.
Clayton-based Enterprise Holdings, the region’s largest privately held company, said it has long used the tax credit Parson wants to salvage. But the governor’s office, and Enterprise officials, both said the company had nothing to do with Parson’s call for a special session.
The Republican governor called the special session last month, despite signals it may be politically unpopular. Democrats said the issue was trivial compared to more glaring topics like gun violence, while Republicans were largely silent, offering neither support nor criticism of the special session.
Parson’s announcement came after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in June that a couple could not use the combined trade-in value of multiple vehicles to reduce the sales tax they owed on a new pickup truck, which would have eliminated their tax bill and resulted in a refund.
The Supreme Court decision “basically says the everyday guy — the average person out here — can’t get a tax break when he trades in a vehicle,” Parson said at a news conference last week.
“I think that’s the people we should be fighting for everyday,” Parson said. “This is not a special interest group. This is a Supreme Court decision that we have every obligation to fix.”
In three instances — a news conference Aug. 15, a news conference last week and in a press release announcing the special session — Parson did not explicitly say that businesses with fleets of vehicles were also affected by the Supreme Court ruling.
“A lot of small businesses take advantage of this,” said Doug Smith, president of the Missouri Automotive Dealers Association. “Small companies that might have a fleet of pickup trucks.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings, rarely uses the credit when managing its massive fleet of vehicles, the company said.
Rather, Enterprise Fleet Management, also a subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings, “has used these credits for years on behalf of its customers,” said company spokeswoman Christine Cavallini.
The fleet-management company strategizes with clients to “analyze your current fleet, identify immediate opportunities for savings and craft a comprehensive plan for the year ahead,” according to its website.
Cavallini said individual customers who trade in multiple vehicles with Enterprise Car Sales also take advantage of the credit.
The company said it only uses trade-in credits in the St. Louis area, something Ray Wagner, the company’s senior vice president of government and public affairs, said happens rarely.
Wagner said only Enterprise Rent-A-Car — not its other brands, Alamo and National — use the credit. The company did not say how much money it saves by using the credit, but Wagner said Enterprise Holdings, which generated more than $24 billion last year in revenue, does not rely on the incentive to turn a profit.
The Department of Revenue said between 6-10% of the 140,000 vehicle trade-in transactions it sees per year involve multiple trade-ins. The agency did not provide a breakdown of business-versus-individual use of the credit.
Not every business takes advantage of the credit. Turo, which markets itself as a “rental car alternative” and has emerged as a competitor to Enterprise, allows vehicle owners to list their cars online for others to “book” for a block of time.
“As the leader in peer-to-peer car-sharing, Turo does not take advantage of this tax credit or qualify for any of its benefits because we are not a rental car company and do not own any vehicles,” Michelle Fang, the company’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.
The San Francisco-based company said it is monitoring the special session in Missouri.
Lawmakers return to Jefferson City on Monday to debate keeping the tax credit.
“This is first I’ve heard of it,” Rep. Kip Kendrick, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said when told businesses also take advantage of the multiple trade-in credit.
Kendrick said he’s spoken to “conservatives and liberals alike who are just really wondering why this issue rises to the level of calling a special session.”
Dan Mehan, president of the GOP-aligned Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was surprised to learn about the special session. He said his group didn’t ask for it.
“I don’t sense the urgency here.”