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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Senior citizens may see state tax breaks

New proposal would offer property tax relief

January 16, 2007

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Senior citizens likely will receive some tax breaks from the Legislature this session.

A reduction for some Social Security recipients appears headed for quick approval, and another proposal unveiled Tuesday would provide property tax relief to the elderly.

House Democrats unveiled a plan by state Rep. Tom Holland of Baldwin City to enhance the homestead refund program for low-income Kansans who are blind or 55 and older by increasing the top refund from $600 to $750.

They also want to increase the income eligibility threshold, in addition to some other breaks.

"These programs will provide much-needed relief to Kansas seniors and allow them to stay in their homes," the Democrats said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers started considering Senate Bill 29, which would allow taxpayers to subtract Social Security benefits from their federal adjusted gross income when computing Kansas income tax liability.

"I would think it's on a fast track," Senate tax committee chairwoman Barbara Allen, R-Overland Park, said after a hearing on the measure.

The move has gained political traction this session and supporters say the state can afford the nearly $19 million loss to the treasury because of surging state tax collections.

Allen said the committee probably would work on the bill next week.

"It seems there is a lot of support," she said.

Sen. Peggy Palmer, R-Augusta, said only eight states apply the state income tax to Social Security benefits that are taxable at the federal level.

Removing this from tax calculations "will allow seniors to keep more of their own money and help pay for the increased cost of medicines, gasoline, energy and property taxes," Palmer said.

For most taxpayers receiving only Social Security benefits, there is no tax liability on those benefits, according to a legislative staff report. But for recipients who receive other income, a portion of their benefits may be subject to the federal income tax.

This proposal would remove the state income tax liability on those benefits. It would affect about 115,000 Kansas taxpayers, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.

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