SENSIBLE TAX POLICY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Children can thrive when their basic needs are met. Through our tax dollars, Kansans support kids and families who otherwise would go without. That’s why tax policy matters — it impacts every Kansan, business, and community.
We saw what happened in 2012 when ideology got in the way of common sense: schools, hospitals, and vital infrastructure all paid the price. We can’t afford to return to those trying times. Instead, we must forge a new path forward to ensure Kansas kids and families have the resources they need to thrive.
KAC evaluates tax policy by looking at six measures.
KAC advocates for equitable tax policies, which prioritize opportunity and stability for every Kansas family, regardless of race, income, zip code, identity, or ability. We believe the answers to practical questions about taxes — like how high or low should they be, who should pay and how much, and what should be taxed — flow from strong and equitable principles. These are broadly recognized as the foundation of a system that works.
Kansas Must Invest in Families, Not Go Back to Failed Tax Experiments
Kansas has faced challenging years in the recent past, including the fallout of a failed tax experiment and complications resulting from the pandemic. However, current state revenue projections look promising and can provide an opportunity for state lawmakers to prioritize Kansas families and those most vulnerable to economic insecurity.
While a bipartisan majority of lawmakers reversed much of the ill-fated tax experiment in 2017, there are still policies that need reversing. For one, the individual income tax rate remains lower than before the tax experiment when the highest individual income tax rate was reduced from 6.45 percent to 5.70 percent.
Second, the tax experiment removed credits for working families, including the refundable food sales tax credit and including renters in the Homestead Property Tax Credit.
Kansas lawmakers finally addressed the high (and regressive) state-level sales tax on food in the 2022 session by passing a bill that will gradually decrease the state-level sales tax until it reaches full elimination in 2025.
However, lawmakers have not yet reinstated renters as beneficiaries of the Homestead Property Tax Credit, especially unfortunate given current inflation, increasing rental rates and housing prices, and an often inaccessible and inadequate housing market.
With a historic surplus, now is the time to invest in Kansas children and families and ensure the state’s tax code is equitable with every Kansas resident paying their fair share. Kansas lawmakers must avoid calls for risky policy changes that could lead to long-term state fiscal instability and instead continue to make investments in the state that will lead to future economic growth.
We have proven programs to address the needs created by poverty. They have worked in the past, and they will work now. But we need to ensure Kansas has a stable revenue stream so the state can invest in these programs, including schools, health care, and services for every Kansan, while also protecting against economic downturns. To achieve this, we urge lawmakers to:
- Ensure successful businesses and the richest Kansans are paying their fair share, including addressing tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit higher-income Kansas individuals and businesses. Leaders should also create a fourth individual income tax bracket for the highest income Kansans so someone making millions is not paying the same rate as someone earning just $30,001.
- Implement or enhance the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit so it's easier for Kansas families, including low-income families, to pay their bills.
- Avoid risky tax policy proposals, especially constitutional restrictions, that would make it harder for the state to pay its bills and improve Kansas residents’ quality of life, including in areas of education, infrastructure, public safety, water and agricultural protections, and other investments that help our communities thrive.
- Evaluate tax incentives and tax exemptions to ensure an even playing field for all Kansas taxpayers — regardless of income. These policy tools should only be used when their effectiveness is proven and acts in the best long-term interest of the state.
- Address high property taxes by increasing state aid to local governments and by reinstating the Homestead Property Tax credit to renters.