A Douglas County official said that Kansas' new method for motor vehicle registration will not eliminate inequities for the state's taxpayers.
"I take exception to the fact that the temporary regulation is correcting the inequity, according to analysis we have done and shown," said county treasurer Nancy Hempen. "It's shifting the inequity."
Mrs. Hempen's remarks came after the state decided to alter the way it figures registration costs for motor vehicles. Kansas has used a staggered system for registration, at which time vehicle owners pay property taxes on their cars and trucks.
But the state's current system was deemed unconstitutional by Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan in a non-binding opinion in August because vehicle owners whose last names fall at the end of the alphabet pay progressively more in taxes than people with last names at the beginning of the alphabet. For example, a vehicle owner with a last name beginning with T paid more in taxes than someone with a last name beginning with A.
THIS INEQUITY occurred because people with last names beginning with A realized the state's 16 percent depreciation on their vehicle on March 1, but people with last names beginning with T did not realize the same depreciation until Dec. 1. Therefore, people with last names beginning with A had their vehicle valuation 16 percent lower for nine months longer than people whose last names start with T.
In an attempt to end the inequity, the Legislature's interim Committee on Assessment and Taxation has adopted the Department of Revenue's plan that will figure depreciation for all vehicles in January, regardless of people's last names.
But Mrs. Hempen asserts that this step simply moves the inequity to the front of the alphabet. She, along with Rhonda Banks, a Motor Vehicle Clerk III in the treasurer's office, calculated vehicle taxes using this new system and discovered that an A would pay more than a T in all cases.
"WE DON'T believe that what is going to be implemented in January is correcting the system," Mrs. Hempen said.
Mrs. Hempen and Ms. Banks have given the committee a plan that they developed to equalize taxes. They claim their system equalizes taxes for people, regardless of their last names, given that two people bought identical vehicles on the same day and sold them on the same day.
The committee has recommended this plan for consideration in the Legislature next year.