Tax Overhaul on the Horizon in Kansas

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Last week’s elections saw Republicans in Kansas take control of the state legislature with a 92-33 majority in the House and a 31-9 majority in the Senate. This newfound power has allowed Governor-elect Sam Brownback to speculate about revising the state's tax structure.  One of the items on his agenda will be reviewing a one percent sales tax rate increase passed earlier this year.  Brownback, while criticizing the tax hike, has not explicitly proposed repealing it.  Instead, Brownback has said he wants to evaluate and modify the current levels of income, property, and sales taxes.  Specifically, Brownback said he wanted to lower the state's individual income tax, a tax he sees as hindering growth.

If Brownback wants to keep taxes low and balance the state budget, he would be wise to listen to the proposals coming out of the Kansas Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations (KACIR).  KACIR’s recommendation included a three-year moratorium on creating new sales tax exemptions and an examination of the effects of current sales tax exemptions. The report also suggests a three-year moratorium and examination of property tax exemptions. If enacted, these proposals would go a long way toward both modernizing the state's tax structure and making it more stable. 

These proposals should not sound new to returning Kansas legislators.  Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon has been advocating these proposals since the legislature began debating the sales tax last year.  Hopefully Brownback’s new administration will be open to reconsidering these sound proposals.

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