Flat tax could be up for a vote in Topeka

Local

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some call the idea of a flat tax simple, making it easy to file your state taxes. Others call it unfair.

“It’s a terrible idea,” says House Minority Leader, Jim Ward, D- Wichita. “What it does is protect the wealthiest Kansans while increasing the taxes of the poorest Kansans, and it doesn’t provide enough revenue to do what we have to do for our local schools.”

Other lawmakers say it could bring in enough revenue to get Kansas in the black again and should be considered for many reasons.

“And there are several components to it that folks are really liking,” says Senator Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg. “One is going to be the ease. It will really be based on what the income is, that bottom-line income from your federal filing. So it would be a one page tax form that you would fill out in April, so people really like the ease of that.”

Baumgardner says it also could give the state some predictability in revenue, something state budget workers have struggled with over the past couple of years.

“Folks are very confident that it will bring in the steady stream of revenue that we do need for our state,” says Baumgardner.

The idea passed out of committee Wednesday, and it could be up for a vote later this week, with a 5-percent flat tax being proposed for the vote.

Still, some say they may not have the votes for it to pass the House.

“We need revenue, and we need predictability,” says Ward. “The people of Kansas elected over 40 new House members and about 12 new Senate members and they were sent with specific directions, fix the problem. We’re sick and tired of the state being bankrupt and not being able to pay its bills. We’re tired of our schools not being able to provide the services to our students that they need and our tax system is just totally unfair. And this flat tax is a way to avoid addressing the issue of the wealthiest Kansans not paying anything in some cases and a very small amount in some other cases. It prevents us from getting the revenue we need to fund our schools in an adequate and equitable way.”

The House would vote on the idea first, and the Senate vote would come later. The state still needs to find about a billion dollars through the end of June of next year to balance the budget.


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