Kansas: Decision Made on Taxing Green Fees


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As a follow up to my earlier post on 2/21, the Kansas House has decided against broadening the sales tax base to include taxing green fees on city and county golf courses.

Here's the story from the Wichita Eagle:
TOPEKA - Duffers who like to play a round of golf at municipal courses can breathe a little easier. The Kansas House killed a bill today that would have required golfers to pay state and local sales taxes on their green fees.
Sales tax currently is collected at private golf courses but not city- or county-owned facilities. The owners of the private courses argued that they are often in competition with municipal courses and that it was unfair to require sales tax for them and not their city or county competitors.
Lawmakers opposed to the bill called it a tax increase on seniors and middle- and lower-income people who can't afford country club memberships. The House voted 75-34 against a motion to advance the measure to a final vote today. That kills the bill unless a motion to reconsider is offered successfully today.
Ironically, it sounds like the measure was defeated largely because of its potential impact on low- and middle-income people. However, when ideas about increasing the sales tax are debated, rarely do these same legislators make the connection between the sales tax and its regressivity.

As ITEP has "noted, taxing personal services is a great option for making the sales tax less unfair. But if taxing the poor was really the problem that legislators wanted to address, a better option would be to expand the sales tax base to include as many personal services as possible and then increase the Food Sales Tax Rebate that Kansas now offers. Expanding the sales tax base to include most services would also take away the unfair competitive edge between services that are and aren't taxed. By voting against this sales tax expansion, Kansas legislators also ensure that the sales tax isn't modernized and able to react to the country's shift from a goods to a service based economy.

Kansas legislators have missed out on an opportunity to improve the state's sales tax--but it's a decision they'll have to come back to.
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