taxes

Tax Waver

Apr 13, 2016

You've seen them on the sidewalk outside those tax places, waving to all who pass by. Meet the man behind the Statue of Liberty costume.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Three influential Republican state senators Tuesday introduced a bill to repeal a controversial business tax exemption approved as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 income tax cuts.

Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, said the measure is needed to close a tax “loophole” that is costing “at least $250 million” a year and wreaking havoc with the state budget.

“It continues to make the budget unstable,” Denning said in a news release. “Given the rapid deterioration of the budget, I believe we have the votes to close the loophole and send the bill to the governor.”

A study released last month by Wichita State University found that Kansas'  sales tax pushes shoppers across state and county lines in order to save money on food. Kansas is one of only 14 states that includes groceries in the state sales tax.

For this 50th episode, we recorded Statehouse Blend live in front of a studio audience at Westport Flea Market. We explore the most pressing issues of 2016 with KCUR's Sam Zeff and Steve Kraske, and with guests Republican Rep. John Rubin and Democratic Rep. John Wilson.

Guests:

  • John Rubin, Representative from District 014, Kansas Legislature
  • John Wilson, Representative from, Kansas Legislature 
  • Steve Kraske, Host of Up To Date, KCUR

2016 Kansas Legislative Preview

Jan 5, 2016

As legislators go back to work in Kansas this month, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind—the budget. Tax cuts have left the state scrambling to find enough money to cover its programs. We discuss that and how President Obama's statements on gun violence apply to Kansas on this edition of Up to Date.

Guests:

  • Sen. David Haley, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan.
  • Rep. Stephanie Clayton, a Republican from Overland Park

Kansas collected $27 million less than expected in taxes last month, largely driven by sagging income and sales tax receipts. The drop is enough to erase the state’s small estimated savings account.

Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan says it’s too early to tell if it’s a one-time drop in income taxes or a trend.

“It is the first time this fiscal year that individual income tax receipts have not grown compared to the prior fiscal year to date,” says Jordan.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has once again thrown his support behind a fuel tax increase in order to fund highway improvements.

Speaking Thursday to host Steve Kraske on KCUR's to Date, Nixon says he hopes a bill pre-filed this month by Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) "gets to his desk."

Experts say financial planning is often key to financial success but one of the biggest challenges is finding the right person to manage your money. A panel of wealth management professionals offer advice on how to find someone who is competent, trustworthy, and interested in helping you achieve your financial goals.

Guests:

Creative Commons-Pixabay

 After opposing efforts to hike the state’s cigarette tax for more than a decade, Missouri convenience stores are now pushing two tobacco-increase plans, either of which they said would add $800 million to state coffers within a decade of their enactment.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association on Monday filed paperwork seeking state authorization to place their plans on the ballot in November 2016. The plans include roll-back language that could send the language to court if approved by voters.

“We are sick of being on the defensive when it comes to this issue,” says Ron Leone, the association’s executive director.

KHI News Service photo

The cigarette tax increase Kansas legislators approved in June to help close a budget gap has not dissuaded people from buying smokes in Kansas — at least not yet.

The state cigarette tax climbed from 79 cents per pack to $1.29 per pack on July 1, an increase of 63 percent. Tax revenue from cigarette sales for July 2015 was up 64 percent over July 2014, which means people purchased about the same amount of cigarettes in Kansas as they did before the tax hike, if the underlying cost of a pack of cigarettes stayed relatively close to last year’s price. (Data on the average price of a pack of cigarettes in Kansas last month is not yet available.)

That’s significant, because the prospect of higher taxes spurring Kansans to quit was used as an argument both for and against the tax hike.

Johnson County Commissioners will vote Thursday on a mill levy increase to pay for parks and libraries.

“Fully 50 percent plus of this entire property tax increase is going to improve services,” says County Manager Hannes Zacharias, adding those are the amenities besides a high-quality education that attract people to Johnson County.

The rest will offset a decrease in revenue collections, improve pay for sheriff’s deputies and fund capital improvements for county infrastructure.

Michael Cannon / Flickr--Creative Commons

A group pushing for elimination of the sales tax on groceries in Kansas is touting a new study.

The Wichita State University study shows that even before it was raised last month from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, the statewide sales tax was costing rural grocers an average of about $18,000 a year in lost sales.

The study was paid for by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization pushing to make Kansas the 37th state to eliminate its sales tax on groceries.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director believes Kansas officials needs to study how they estimate future state tax collections. The comments were made just before new July revenue numbers came in below the mark.

Over the last year, Kansas tax collections have come up short of the estimates 10 times, and beat the estimates twice. Some of the misses were small, but four times over the last year the state’s monthly tax collections were at least $20 million below expectations.

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, helps create the estimates.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Some say that local government is the toughest branch, because it’s closest to the people.

For Mission, Kansas Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, it's easy.

“If you're honest and talk straight the people tell you what they want and what they don't like and you adjust,” he says.  

Schowengerdt stopped by KCUR studios to talk with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the meatiest issues on Mission's table. 

Here are five questions Kraske asked the Mayor:

After a record-breaking 113 days, the Kansas legislature finally passed a budget and tax deal. On this edition of Up To Date, we analyze the session and take a look at what it was like to participate in, and cover, the  2015 assembly. 

Lawmakers in the Kansas House were sharply divided over a tax bill debated Weednesday night. The measure seemed to be on its way to failure before the vote was paused at midnight by a legislative rule.

Republican Rep. Marvin Kleeb urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it was likely their last option to avoid cuts to state services like K-12 education. They’ve already approved a budget, but it needs around $400 million in new revenue to balance.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

While the broader battle over a tax plan in the Kansas Legislature continues, a few nights ago the Senate managed to slip in a last minute provision that makes it a lot easier to obtain tax credits for private and religious school scholarships in the state.

The mission of the legislation is laudable: provide scholarships to at-risk kids to go to private or parochial schools.

But there's a catch. People or corporations in the state receive a tax credit for providing the scholarship money. The state will allow up to $10 million a year in such credits.

The Kansas House decided not to take up a tax bill Monday that was sent to them by the state Senate. Lawmakers return for day 110 of the legislative session Tuesday and the only item left on their plate is balancing the budget.

Both chambers in the Kansas Legislature have now approved the budget, but the bill needs around $400 million in tax increases, or budget cuts, to be balanced. The Senate passed a tax plan on Sunday. But senators also added some policy changes, like a limit on property tax increases without a public vote and a proposal to eliminate some tax exemptions.

A tax proposal failed Thursday night in the Kansas House by a huge margin. Lawmakers still need to finish work on a budget and a tax plan that covers a shortfall in the budget.

The first tax plan failed on a 3-108 vote.

Some Kansas lawmakers voted against the bill because it didn’t reinstate enough business income taxes or because it canceled future personal income tax cuts. Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer said the bill raised the sales tax too high.

“Sales taxes are regressive. They affect working families, seniors citizens a lot worse than other taxes,” said Sawyer.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Lawmakers are in the 105th day of the 2015 legislative session, making it the second longest session in Kansas state history. Legislators are looking for more than $400 million to close the state’s budget gap.

There was hope last weekend that the logjam could break when Gov. Sam Brownback introduced his tax plan. It relies mostly on sales taxes and tobacco taxes to generate revenue.

The bill mostly leaves business income tax cuts in place, because Brownback says they’re spurring economic growth.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A committee in the Kansas House has advanced a new tax plan aimed at filling a budget hole. The panel voted to send the bill to the full chamber for debate. It would raise the sales tax on non-food items and reinstate some business income taxes that were eliminated in 2012.

Republican state Rep. Mark Hutton, himself a business owner, says it’s a philosophical question. Should Kansas business owners continue to pay zero income tax?

“When we’re asking everybody else in the state to step up and pay more in sales tax. I think it’s commensurate,” says Hutton.

Financial Planners: Tackling Death & Taxes

Apr 20, 2015

You can’t avoid death and taxes, but you can -- and should -- plan for them. The financial planners return on Monday's Up to Date to discuss how you can do that successfully.

Guests:

Legislation designed to aid some delinquent taxpayers in Missouri is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk.

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed HB 384, the "tax amnesty" bill, which would allow people behind on their state income taxes to pay them off without additional penalties or interest.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback stuck by his aggressive tax policy during his State of the State address Thursday, outlining an ambitious list of legislative priorities for 2015.

But even members of the governor's own party say it's too early to tell what Brownback can accomplish during the session.

KC Healthy Kids

 

Led by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization supported in part by the Kansas Health Foundation, a coalition is being formed to guide a legislative effort to exempt food from the state sales tax.

“Cutting the sales tax on food will make it more affordable for Kansans to eat healthier,” says Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids.

Eric Langhorst / Flickr Creative Commons

Throughout the year we put the Kansas City metro area under a microscope examining the details of the events and issues facing its residents and leaders.

On this edition of Up to Date, we zoom out for a broader view. Steve Kraske and three area journalists bring us their analysis, thoughts, and observations on what's working and what's not in Kansas City, Mo. 

Guests:

A group meeting Monday will update estimates for Kansas tax collections. The revenue predictions let lawmakers know how much money they have to spend as they write the state budget.

The Kansas Consensus Revenue Estimating Group is made up of members of the governor's administration, non-partisan legislative researchers and economists from universities in Kansas. They meet twice per year. This time, they'll revise the estimate for the current fiscal year and craft a prediction for tax collections next fiscal year.

A $21 million shortfall in September tax collections has renewed the debate on Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic policies heading into the last month of the 2014 campaign.

city-data

There are two big issues in the race for Kansas governor this year: How to fund education and how to grow the economy.

Republican incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback is standing firm on cutting taxes to boost the economy.

Brownback has cut income taxes for individuals and eliminated them for small businesses. He says this will spur business development and thus the economy will grow.

But House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Davis has a very different idea.

Davis says he will drive economic growth by spending more on education.

John Russell / Flickr-CC

Last week, Missouri voters solidly rejected Amendment 7, which would have increased the sales tax by three-quarters of a cent for 10 years to fund roads and bridges.

On Monday's Up to Date, we take a look at why voters reacted the way they did and what lawmakers might do to pay for those transportation items now.

Guest:

  • Rep. Dave Schatz, Chair of the Missouri House Transportation Committee

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