Working from home included in St. Louis City earnings tax collection


ST. LOUIS – COVID has forced many people to work from home. Some may have thought that would lead to a tax refund concerning St. Louis City’s earnings tax; but apparently, that’s not the case.

St. Louis needs hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep operating. About a third of the city revenue comes from a one-percent earnings tax on folks who live or work in the city limits.

That money pays for services everyone uses like police, fire, and paramedics. A person whose employer is in St. Louis and that person does some of their work outside city limits can receive a refund on that earnings tax.

Michael works from his county home for a company in the city.

“(The refund) could be in the hundreds of dollars,” he said.

Michael filed and received an earnings tax refund.

“No problem,” he said. “You show how many days you worked outside the city of St. Louis.”

Many workers, such as truckers, could request a tax earnings refund.

“A truck driver spends little time in city of St. Louis,” said Chuck Billings, an attorney at the Bruntrager and Billings law firm.

People working from home because of COVID should not expect to get any money back. The collector of revenue sent out a statement which reads: “If your place of employment is in the city and you are required to travel for business outside the city to meet customers etc. Those days can be deducted from your earnings tax calculation.”

It goes on to say: “If you are working virtually from outside the city you will be required to pay the earnings tax.”

Billings said this type of issue has been challenged in courts before and cities have won.

“Performing your services outside the city is really different than being able to work from home on a computer,” he said. “They’ve been challenged as to their constitutionality and they’ve been upheld.”

You can still file for a refund and the revenue department will take it up on a case-by-case basis.

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