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SPOTLIGHT
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Hashing out the details on Kansas tax plan

Published on -3/13/2013, 9:57 AM

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Last session, the largest tax cut in state history was signed into law. The bill dropped the top state income tax rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent and the low rate from 3.5 percent to 3 percent.

Until last session, Kansas had the highest rates of any of its surrounding states. The plan might be working, as there were 1,500 more business filings in 2012 than in 2011 -- and surrounding states, such as Nebraska, are scrambling to lower rates to remain competitive with Kansas.

This year, the governor has called on the Legislature to cut income taxes further so as to glide to zero state income tax. The latest proposal is to drop the top rate from 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent by 2017. The bottom rate would be dropped to 2.5 percent in 2014 and then to 1.9 percent in 2016.

Rather than expanding government, the governor has asked that any revenue that comes in above 4 percent during this time be used to buy-down the tax liability of Kansas. The plan would leave the current sales tax rate in place and eliminate the state home-mortgage deduction.

Although the state home-mortgage deduction would be eliminated, the deduction for charitable contributions and the earned income tax credit would stay in place. I received countless emails to keep the earned income tax credit in place when it was being considered last year.

Seventy percent of Kansans do not claim the home-mortgage deduction; instead, they claim the head of household deduction that is $9,000. Most taxpayers do fall under the standard deduction. The federal mortgage interest deduction still will be available.

There are still many questions, and the top one might be: How do we replace the revenue if the sales tax does come off?

The two-year budget plan is also being proposed by the governor. I personally like this proposal as it will allow the state more time to heal from the recession and to plan for the future.

What has been overlooked in this year's tax plan proposal was an elimination of the state individual income tax deduction on property tax paid on homes. This deduction would be worth $68.5 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

What happens next? There will be a plan from the governor, a House plan and a Senate plan. There will be agreement and disagreement and in the end we will see the amount of revenue we have to work with.

Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, represents the 120th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov

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