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What Kansas City's Guilty Pleasures Cost On Both Sides Of The State Line

Lisa Rodriguez

If you're in the mood for booze, cigarettes or candy in the Kansas City area, consider taking the state line into account when you make your purchases.

That's because the Missouri-Kansas border definitely plays a role in what you will pay for life's guilty pleasures, KCUR found in its phone survey of prices across the metro.

On Nov. 7, we called a total of 24 gas stations and liquor stores in eight parts of the Kansas City area in Kansas and Missouri. We requested the prices of three items: a Snickers bar, a pack of Marlboro Lights and a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles of Bud Light.

According to our survey, if you want cheap candy and cheap cigarettes, head north of the urban core on the Missouri side of the state line. A gas station in Parkville, Mo., offered the lowest prices for both the Snickers and Marlboro Lights, at $1.06 and $5.06, respectively, including taxes.

The most expensive Snickers bars in the sampling also were in Missouri, selling for $1.55 apiece at a gas station in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The same candy bar in downtown Kansas City, Kan., was 20 cents cheaper.

Sales and use taxes are generally  cheaper on retail sales — including candy — in Missouri, at 4.225 percent, compared with Kansas' 6.15 percent. (Figures don't include local taxes.)

The Sunflower State proved to show the highest cigarette prices, with downtown Kansas City, Kan., topping our price list at $6.09 for a pack of Marlboro Lights. Part of the difference may stem from cigarette taxes, which are levied four times higher in Kansas — 79 cents per pack of 20 cigarettes — than in Missouri — 17 cents per pack of 20 cigarettes.

As far as beer, we again found the cheapest prices for a Bud Light six-pack outside of the urban core, but in Kansas — at $7.50 a pack in Leavenworth. We also found similarly priced six-packs at $7.55 in the Kansas cities of Prairie Village, downtown Kansas City and Leawood.

Missouri beer prices trended higher, with the highest receipt coming in at $8.65 in downtown Kansas City.

Credit Courtesy photo / KCUR
KCUR's Beyond Our Borders project will examine the Missouri-Kansas state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area through early 2015.

The cheaper beer prices in Kansas come despite higher beer taxes. As of Jan. 1, the state of Kansas collected 18 cents per gallon in taxes on beer, plus 8 to 10 percent in general sales taxes, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

In comparison, Missouri charges 6 cents a gallon in taxes on beer, plus general sales taxes. In 2014, the combined state and average local sales tax rates in Missouri were 7.58 percent.

Laura Ziegler, Lisa Rodriguez, Briana O'Higgins and Cody Newill of KCUR contributed to this report.

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

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