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Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2003

Panel urges financial aid for businesses over sales tax law

November 13, 2003

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— A legislative study committee agreed Wednesday that the state should provide relief to businesses struggling with a new sales tax law, but members did not endorse a specific proposal because of the potential cost.

Some business owners have complained that the new law is onerous because it requires retailers to collect sales taxes at the rates imposed where they deliver their goods, rather than where the business is located, as had been the practice for decades.

The change puts the state in a position to collect its sales tax on Internet purchases should Congress reverse a national ban on such taxation. Some state officials believe Kansas could receive $100 million or more from taxes on such purchases.

The state imposes a sales tax of 5.3 percent, but cities and counties can impose their own taxes, meaning the total rate varies from location to location. Some retailers who deliver goods regularly -- florists and furniture stores are examples -- now must track their sales in more detail and keep more detailed records.

To respond to complaints, the Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation recommended that legislators consider allowing businesses to take income tax credits equal to what they spend on computer software or programming to adjust to the new law. The panel's unanimous voice vote will forward the idea to the 2004 Legislature, which convenes in January.

"What we're trying to target here is small businesses," said Sen. Dave Corbin, R-Towanda, the study committee's chairman.

Corbin suggested that the committee limit the tax credit, perhaps to $500 for each of two years and either limit eligibility by the number of employees a business has, or its annual sales.

But committee members did not adopt any specific guidelines because they did not know how much a tax-credit program would cost the state, though it is likely to be at least several million dollars. The Department of Revenue has estimated that the new law affects between 25,000 and 30,000 businesses.

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