The one tax increase that seems to be making the most headway is on sales.
Everybody needs food and clothing, the thinking goes, and so should be the most fair.
That would be true if everybody were in the same income bracket. But that $4 gallon of milk takes a bigger chunk out of a $400 weekly paycheck as opposed to a $4,000 paycheck. In the first case, the wage-earner makes $20,000 a year; the second, $200,000.
In Kansas, food is taxed at 6.15 percent, to which Iola and the county tack on an additional 1 percent each.
Most states don’t tax food. Some levy a minimal tax such as 1 percent.
Kansas maintains it makes up for its high food tax by allowing a tax credit for low-income families. That’s true. A whopping $125 rebate. The average family of four spends $200 a week on groceries.
In truth, the rebate is little more than an insult.
Raising the state sales tax from 6.15 to 7.15 percent would net about $426 million, enough to meet next year’s budget gap. But about half enough to meet the following year’s expected budget shortfall.
Gov. Brownback isn’t saying whether he would approve a sale tax hike, maintaining he favors substantially increasing the taxes on sales of alcohol and cigarettes. Those two taxes would generate about $212 million.
A MORE equitable tax is one on income. The more you make, the more you pay in taxes.
Had Kansas not scaled back income taxes, we would not be facing a massive budget deficit nor be forced to delay getting the state’s pension program back on track.
A governor is only one person, while many men and women comprise the Legislature and have the power to make law. In Kansas, it would take 84 members of the House and 27 of the Senate to override a veto by Gov. Brownback if they were to propose to increase the income tax.
But that won’t make it to the table as long as our leaders have a “let them eat cake” attitude.
— Susan Lynn