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 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 policy improvements needed. 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.
HOW ARE KANSANS TAXED?
When comparing Kansas to our neighboring states and the nation, Kansas has a greater dependency on property and sales taxes, while relying less on personal income taxes.
The Kansas income tax structure is the most progressive of the three-legged stool (income, property, and sales), meaning people pay higher rates on higher incomes. Sales taxes, however, are the most regressive type of taxes, as low- and moderate-income people spend a higher percentage of their income on these taxes.
Currently, individual income single tax filers making $1 million are taxed at the same rate (5.7 percent) as a single filer making $30,001. However, when we look at taxes relative to an individual's income, low- and moderate-income taxpayers pay more percentage-wise than their higher-income counterparts.
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.
For many working Kansas families, even with full-time employment, it is a struggle to make ends meet with the increasing costs of housing, child care, and basic necessities. Lawmakers can do more to address the needs of Kansas families, while also ensuring Kansas has a stable revenue stream. We want our state to make investments in Kansas families, fund existing and vital programs (including schools, health care, and services for every Kansan), and protect against economic downturns.
To achieve this, we urge lawmakers to:
Implement a state-level child tax credit so Kansas families can meet their immediate financial obligations like housing, food, and child care.
Address high property taxes and their impact on increasing rental costs by reinstating the Homestead Property Tax credit to renters.
Help families invest in their child’s future and offset the growing cost of higher education through the establishment of a state-sponsored children’s savings account program.
Avoid risky tax policy, especially constitutional restrictions and flat tax proposals, 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.