Front Row: Mike Garozzo, Vic Allred, Mike Whatley, Greg Hunsucker
Back Row: Bill Teel, Marty Elton, Buddy Lahl, Todd Hulse.
The Chef Coats Effective representation before the Missouri Legislature is an exercise in diligence and persistence. An integral component of this representation is the continual education of legislators on the importance of Missouri’s restaurants to the overall health of our state economy. This education must necessarily require a consistent presence in Jefferson City, as education should be as gradual as the moon rise, perceptible not in progress but in result.
Toward this end, MRA maintains a continual grassroots presence at the Capitol. We are easy to recognize in chef coats bearing the MRA logo – and it's easy for legislators to remember “the restaurants were here today.”
As an effective advocate for the industry, MRA improves the business climate in which restaurants operate, thereby improving your chance to operate successfully and create career opportunities for Missourians in every community across the state. Among the legislative victories MRA has achieved in recent years are the following.
MRA Legislative Victories Minimum Wage If not for MRA’s efforts on this issue, Missouri’s minimum wage would be progressing toward $15 with no tip credit. MRA has twice passed minimum wage preemption legislation, ensuring one consistent statewide standard for Missouri's wage floor and preventing a confusing patchwork of hundreds of local ordinances.
Liquor Liability If not for MRA, restaurants serving liquor by the drink would pay much higher premiums for liquor liability insurance – if they could even find a carrier willing to write coverage in our state. Importantly, the Association also raised the evidentiary standard to “knowingly served a visibly intoxicated person” and stipulated that blood alcohol levels are not legally sufficient to prove visible intoxication.
Under-reported cash tips If not for MRA’s work, restaurants could be held responsible for employees’ personal income tax when the Missouri Department of Revenue's testing methodologies led them to suspect employees had failed to report all their cash tips. Restaurants who had received and paid assessments were given refunds after MRA introduced and passed legislation to prevent DOR from issuing such assessments.
Sales tax on mandatory gratuities MRA introduced and passed legislation stipulating that sales tax is not required on mandatory gratuities. MRA successfully argued that tips are taxed as labor and therefore also subjecting them to sales tax was double taxation.
Sales tax on delivery charges MRA worked to pass legislation that stipulates sales tax is not required on reasonable delivery fees when such fees are separately stated on the invoice.
Federal tax reform Working in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association, MRA worked to ensure the FICA Tip Credit was not repealed as part of the recently-passed Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, and that the Act included tax relief for small businesses doing businesses as pass-through entities. 2% Sales tax collection allowance MRA successfully stalled a repeal of this important provision that allows businesses to retain 2% of sales tax collected as compensation for acting as the tax collector for the state. In preventing the repeal of the 2% sales tax collection allowance, MRA improved the bottom-line of a business by approximately $1,600 for each $1 million in taxable sales.
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