Archive for Sunday, April 12, 1998

LAWMAKERS PLEASED WITH TAX-CUT PLAN

April 12, 1998

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Area legislators say they're pleased with the $247 million tax cut package approved by the Kansas Legislature.

Rep. Ralph Tanner was beaming Friday about the $247 million tax cut package the Kansas Legislature approved this week.

``I'm absolutely ecstatic,'' said the Baldwin Republican, a member of the House Taxation Committee.

``This is the best tax package we've done since I've been in the Legislature. It's more broadly based and it touches more people.''

Nevertheless, Tanner said he would have preferred that lawmakers would have approved a constitutional amendment that would have held the growth on property tax valuations.

Although Tanner and other area legislators found minor faults with the tax package, they all said they were pleased with certain parts.

Tanner cited as important an increase in the personal deduction on the income taxes from $2,000 to $2,250 and the drop in the statewide school levy from 27 to 20 mills. A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

``I felt that it was significant that we saw continued in this tax package an earned income tax credit for the working poor and a rebate on sales tax on food for those with incomes of less than $25,000 a year,'' Tanner said.

``This is one of the first times since we had come from the transition of welfare to work that we had done anything within the tax structure of the state to assist that transition,'' he said.

Another local House Taxation Committee member, Rep. Troy Findley, D-Lawrence, said he was grateful lawmakers established the earned income tax credit for working families.

``This is a very, very important welfare reform piece of legislation,'' Findley said. ``It's going to move people from welfare to work.''

Currently there is a federal earned income tax credit designed to help working poor families offset the regressive Social Security payroll deductions, he said. The Kansas program would provide eligible people credit amounting to 10 percent of the federal amount, he said.

Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said he was particularly pleased about aligning the single and the married taxpayer rates together faster than originally planned.

``I think we have accomplished all the tax relief that was politically possible,'' Sloan said.

Sloan said that when lawmakers return to Topeka later this month after their two-week recess, the House Taxation Committee will take a look at another property tax subject.

Sloan said some county appraisers, including those in Douglas County, are using real estate listing prices to determine the value of property for tax purposes, rather than using the selling price. The committee will look into such practices, he said.

Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said she was pleased lawmakers removed the sales tax from the services used in residential remodeling.

Ballard and Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, both said they were pleased to see the state has repealed the inheritance tax.

``We had one of the worst inheritance tax laws in the country,'' Praeger said. ``it really created situations where people had to sell the farm to pay the taxes. That was an important change.''

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is toplikar@ljworld.com.

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