After weeks of gridlock, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill containing the largest tax increase in the history of our state. Governor Brownback signed this bill into law on June 16. The new tax law:
- Increases sales tax from 6.15% to 6.50% beginning July 1, 2015; combined with local sales tax rates, Kansas now has the highest sales tax rate on food in the country.
- Eliminates and reduces itemized deductions effective tax year 2015, including the property tax and mortgage interest rate deductions.
- Increases tobacco tax by $0.50 per pack beginning July 1, 2015.
- Implements a new tax on e-cigarettes beginning July 1, 2016.
- Creates a low-income exclusion provision, which eliminates income tax liability for single filers with taxable income of $5,000 or less, or joint filers with taxable income of $12,500 or less, beginning in tax year 2016.
- Extends rural opportunity zones (ROZ) for five years.
- Imposes property tax restrictions on local governments.
- Delays income tax rate reductions.
- Requires a Social Security number for a minimum of year to be eligible for tax credits.
- Authorizes tax amnesty for penalties and interest to certain delinquent taxes.
- Requires the Department of revenue to mail a copy of motor vehicle registration applications to owners, including all information required to register and pay by return mail.
I voted against this unfair tax policy because it balances the budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly, and the hardworking middle class Kansans for the sake of the governor’s reckless economic experiment. The increased sales tax is especially troubling for those who live on a fixed income and already struggle to meet their daily needs. Further, these tax policies do not provide a real, long term solution to our state’s budget problems; we will only see additional budget holes to fill in the future.