Hustled in Kansas

Hustled in Kansas

How do you feel about the plan of Governor Sam Brownback to eliminate the state individual income tax? So far during the past session, the Legislature has been compliant with the Governor’s plan by reducing the income tax rate further over the next couple of years. It’s still a ways from Zero. This tells me that if Sam Brownback is not reelected in 2014, the plan to starve the State of Kansas of revenue will be stopped. But in the meantime, the damage will have been done as state services are short-changed.

According to its Web site, “Kansans for No Income Tax, Inc. is a nonprofit working to educate Kansas taxpayers about the benefits of eliminating the state income tax.” Toward the end of the 2012 Legislative session, the group flooded Johnson County with a mailer. It was a move to pressure Senators into supporting the Brownback revenue plan. Whether the mailer was effective or other factors prevailed, the income tax was reduced and many residents were simply exempted from paying it.

According to Kansans for No Income Tax, Inc. (KNIT), our state has the 19th highest state and local tax burden in the country and our economic outlook is ranked 37th in the nation. Never mind that no source for this data is cited, the “state and local tax burden” includes more than the income tax and, therefore, is not indicative that income tax is the problem for the relatively high ranking. Similarly, the source for the “economic outlook” rank is not given. But never mind, outlooks are not performance, merely estimates which may be accurate or not.
KNIT’s witty Web site goes on, ”Eliminating the state income tax doesn’t mean other taxes increase.” Well, the state sales tax just went up on July 1 above the rate it was set to return to before the emergency rate bump. Also, local governments are now preparing the next year’s budgets and many are seeking higher property taxes

The KNIT claims continue, “Reducing taxes does not mean eliminating essential services.” That’s a flimsy, ill-defined statement that does not address reduced budgets for state agencies, schools and higher education or other fiscal tricks like borrowing from funds dedicated to other purposes.

KNIT continues, “It’s about job creation and economic growth.” Sure, it is. It’s about making the wealthy richer. And finally, “Eliminating the state income tax provides a permanent solution to grow our state, increase personal wealth, and provide a more steady tax base for our future.” Notice that the previous statement does not say that state services and schools will be adequately funded. Actually, since the new income tax rates have not been in effect during a tax return filing period, the effect on economic growth is undetermined. If you buy their argument, you do so because you believe you’ll benefit while the other citizens of the state suffer.

The advocates of no Kansas income taxes contend that their cause will mean “more money in your pocket for Kansas taxpayers.” Is that true? I’m retired. Most of my retirement income is exempt from Kansas income tax. After applying deductions to the taxable balance, I pay little or no Kansas income tax. The truth is that “no income tax” will mean less money in my pocket as sales and property taxes rise. There are a lot of other folks who are in the same position as me. Not just seniors, but other Kansas taxpayers, should be cautious about buying this “no income tax” pig in a poke.

Written by Dave Warren


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  • commented 2013-12-21 18:17:02 -0600
    Thank you