Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kansas GOP income tax plan hits poorest

February 22, 2012, 12:57 p.m. Updated February 22, 2012, 3:45 p.m.


— Revenue estimates show that House Republicans’ income tax plan would hike tax rates only for the lowest income earners in Kansas, which GOP leaders said Wednesday was an unforeseen consequence of a newly added amendment.

The estimates show that the plan would cost Kansas more than $850 million over the next five years, possibly creating budget issues in future years. The Associated Press exclusively obtained the figures from a legislative source who wasn’t authorized to publicly release the information.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal acknowledged that the amended plan, which was changed and approved Monday by the House Taxation Committee, hit the lowest tax bracket hardest. The tax increase was a result of changes made to the state’s earned income tax credit for low-income workers.

But he said he and other GOP leaders were looking at making changes before the bill reaches the full House for debate.

“That would be my preference. Obviously, the committee accepted an amendment that had that effect and we want to evaluate that to see if that needs to be changed,” said O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican

House GOP leaders’ original plan would have given all taxpayers a break, and was an alternative to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s income tax proposal. But now, under both the amended House GOP plan and the governor’s proposal, the only group of taxpayers that would see a collective increase in their income taxes would be those with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less.

The House GOP plan is less aggressive in cutting tax rates and helping businesses than Brownback’s plan, and it scales back a tax credit for poor workers, rather than eliminate it, as the governor proposed. Also, the plan keeps other income tax credits and deductions that Brownback said he would eliminate.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis said he hopes O’Neal and GOP leaders will rethink the bill’s impact.

“I hope that is their intent,” said Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. “But we have to look at the numbers and if they show there is a tax increase on the poorest Kansans, it is something that I don’t believe House members should support under any circumstances.”

The committee’s plan also reduces the state’s sales tax to 5.7 percent from 6.3 percent in July 2013, a promise lawmakers made in 2010 when they boosted the rate to help balance the state budget. Brownback had proposed keeping the rate at 6.3 percent to help offset other tax cuts.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Carlson, said dropping the sales tax would help working class families.

Acknowledging the effect of his committee’s amendment on income taxes, the St. Marys Republican said he and his fellow Republicans were considering trying to rewrite the plan so it more closely resembles what GOP leaders introduced. But, he said lawmakers should look at all Kansas residents “and take care of working-class families” in the income tax code.

Brownback proposed ending the tax credit for poor workers and using the savings to boost spending on services. Internal administration figures showed taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less would be the only group seeing a collective income tax increase, worth a total $88 million — or more than 5,100 percent.

The House GOP plan modifies that element, cutting the earned income tax credit for poor workers in half. The plan also proposes ending refunds greater than the taxes owed. For example, a worker who’s due a credit of $500 but has a tax liability of $100 would receive a $400 refund.

“I just don’t know why the Legislature would want to increase taxes on poor people who’ve probably have been hit hardest in this economic recession to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Kansans. It just doesn’t make sense,” Davis said.

O’Neal said the projections from the Department of Revenue on the impact to the state general fund were based on the assumption that none of the money taxpayers save from income tax cuts is spent in the economy, generating other tax revenues.

“That assumes they take the savings and bury it in a tin can in the backyard,” O’Neal said. “They have to project on a static basis, so we have to pretty much ignore those numbers.”

The GOP plan has also been criticized for its impact on the 2010 transportation program, which is funded by a 0.4 percent sales tax. The plan calls for freezing the funds at 2013 levels, what supporters are calling a $351 million loan, for two years to support spending on other government programs.

Increases in sales tax revenue would then resume to the highway plan in the remaining years of the 10-year plan.

The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee will begin work on an income tax proposal early next month, said Chairman Sen. Les Donovan. The Wichita Republican presided over a committee that studied Brownback’s proposal, which was influenced by consulting from Arthur Laffer, the economic adviser who encouraged President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics plans.


grimpeur 6 years ago

It's not an act with these people, is it?

Greg Cooper 6 years ago

No, grimpeur, it is not an act. This is the real thing, the big show. This is where Brownback and, more importantly, the Republican party in Kansas show just how unimportant the lower earning Kansans are to them. It's extremely important that each Kansas voter be aware of what is happening to our state. "We" voted these thieves into office on a wave of dissatisfaction with the economy and a bunch of lies and are now begining to see how the "ins" are ready, willing and, I'm sorry to say, able to ignore any shard of decency or compassion.

This legislature is, to me, more to blame for this than the Governor: they have the ability to think before they act, and are refusing to do so. The next election is going to be truly telling. Either the people of the state want their state back or will make the decision to give it entirely to the religious-industrial complex now running it. God (of any kind) help us all.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

The poor are all lazy bums who deserve what they get. If they were smarter, they would have been born to different parents. Like the slaves 200 years ago, they will get their just rewards in 'heaven.' You folks need to quit griping and believe in Muscular Sam and his businessman jesus. They will fix all of this soon. Ye of little faith!

hyperinflate 6 years ago

Are you willing for all subsidies, especially to businesses and farmers to be ended as well? Or is it just poor scum you want to pay?

optimist 6 years ago

YES! but do you really want all of them cancelled. Many of the subsidies you are talking about keep the cost of goods down which helps those at the lowering income levels most. I for one wouldn't oppose removing these subsidies. I'm all for the free market.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

This is the same Tennessee reader who supposedly lives in the thriving state of Tennessee where there is no income tax, and with a 9% unemployment rate and low wages, not too much income to tax anyway, so why bother.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

They may not have an income tax but believe me, they pay taxes. Sales taxes are near 10% (one of the highest in the nation) and property taxes would make your hair curl. One third of our house payment each month goes to property taxes. We, ourselves, are lucky. We live six blocks from the GA state line and drive over into GA to grocery shop, where sales taxes are a lot lower. Either way, there is no advantage to having no state income tax. You're still taxed and the state govt. has the perfect excuse to give crappy services.

somedude20 6 years ago

"House Speaker Mike O'Neal acknowledged that the amended plan, which was changed and approved by the House Taxation Committee, hit the lowest tax bracket hardest. But he said he and other GOP leaders were looking at making changes before the bill reaches the full House for debate"

indefensible completely indefensible! These Republicians are on the same level as Jerry Sandusky! Best of luck killing the poor and robbing women of their rights! Almost forgot to wish you well on your genocide of people of color! Have fun storming the castle

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

+1 for the princess bride reference :)

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

You know, I could support that if you would apply it to all and make all the big boys who get handouts pay for those as well. Think the Military Industrial Complex would agree? The farming community? All those guys in Lawrence who demand tax breaks so they can "be an independent businessman?" How about the guys who still get mohair subsidies so we can make woolen military uniforms?

asixbury 6 years ago

It is the moral duty of the have's to make sure the have-nots' basic fundamental rights as a human being are taken care of. We all pay for services that we might not directly benefit from. That is a part of living in a society.

asixbury 6 years ago

That is the in which most people do not agree on its answer. And one that I do not want to attempt to answer.

asixbury 6 years ago

I learned in a college history class some time ago, that Eisenhower was going to attempt to pass a "Workers Bill of Rights." Too bad he never accomplished that...those rights were pretty awesome.

jafs 6 years ago

Yes it is - marriage that is.

See Loving v. Virginia.

fearthetaliban 6 years ago

The poor should have married into the Stauffer fortune. Be rich the old fashioned way -- inherit it !

chootspa 6 years ago

I really hope you have someone with you who loves you enough to get your meds checked. That isn't a joke. You worry me.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

"Let's all adopt a couple of "poor" to work around the house. Do some chores." Just to let ya know, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

question4u 6 years ago

"If lower income bracket people want government services, let them pay for it. Nothing is free."

Thanks. I've been wondering what an appropriate response would be when the Last Judgment comes and the Son of Man says, "“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My Brethren, you did it to me.” Surely even Jesus can't argue with the logic that "nothing is free." It's pure genius. Besides, the Bible isn't meant to be taken literally, right?

The Son of Man says, "“Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” He doesn't mention increasing taxes on the poor so that you can cut taxes for the rich, though. No way could that be equated with not giving drink to someone who is thirsty. The Bible is meant to be taken literally, right?

"If lower income bracket people want government services, let them pay for it. Nothing is free."

Awesome! What lofty sentiment! What shining testament to the nobility of human compassion! It makes you proud to be a Kansan!

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years ago

Lazy hands make a man poor. - Proverbs 10:4

Liberty275 6 years ago

I read that 49.5% of Americans don't pay federal income tax. Half the 99%ers are already getting an infinite federal tax break, so maybe they can do with less of my money taken by the kansas revenue dept.

Scott Morgan 6 years ago

Hey, sounds good to me. Charge me more in taxes, then I get a smaller handout. The only money changing hands is me getting less in welfare. Still not working much, got me a house, and free chow too. What a country, what a country.

Tell me where any money is being taken. Actually we tax payers are being taken. Love it, Brownback is showing how the real tax system works.

Nothing here folks, Uncle Bob with the trick knee still gets his government check. Poor Aunt Julie and her 5 kids from 5 men still gets her goodies.

Liberty275 6 years ago

Somewhere off of RCP.. According to my boss, the number is 51% by other estimates.

jafs 6 years ago

The number was more like 47% last time I looked.

And, it's interesting to find out what the people who conducted the study said about it - they don't conclude, as many seem to, that we have too many "free loaders".

chootspa 6 years ago

You read that, huh? You read a lie. You read a piece of propaganda generated by using 2009 figures (so as to maximize Making Work Pay credits and a temporary tax exemption on unemployment benefits that has since expired). The figure excludes payroll taxes as well. The truth is that only 14% of Americans paid no form of federal income tax that year, and most of them were elderly or disabled. Let's go put grandma on an ice floe and be done with it, right?

But then, I've seen you post here often enough to know you're smart enough to know it was a lie.

Liberty275 6 years ago

"payroll tax" doesn't exist. The correct term is "withholding". And it is irrelevant if you get it all back (and then some) at the end of the year. I wrote "federal income tax", which isn't paid until you file you taxes.

As for grandma, mine is dead and it's no business of mine what you do to yours. It's also none of my business if you don't care about her enough to prevent her from falling into poverty. It is my business when the money I work for, as in, I work all day five days a week for it, is taken from me to support your family because you won't.

Leeches are slimy.

optimist 6 years ago

This headline is not just misleading but patently false. Whoever wrote it cannot in good conscience call them selves a journalist. In no way is this plan a tax increase! It should be more accurately defined as a reduction in the level of supplemental income redistributed by the Department of Revenue. The EITC is essentially a welfare program where money in excess of actual paid taxes is credited to the tax filer based on the fact that their earnings fall below a predetermined level. They are essentially taking more out of the system than they are putting in. What I can't figure out is why there isn't one single clearinghouse for people in need of assistance where they can go, explain their situation and be given access to the services they need. Instead we have this network of essentially random programs and services that people in need have to negotiate. Consolidation of programs under one umbrella agency would seemingly reduce the size of the government workforce, the cost of administering the programs and leave more money to help those in need. If people in poverty need assistance they should not just be given cash from the Department of Revenue to do with what they wish. If they earn money and need assistance with housing expenses they should be granted appropriate vouchers for housing, if they need food they should get food stamps, if they need medical care they should get medical assistance but free money is quite simply redistribution of wealth (otherwise referred to as Socialism). These benefits should come with social workers, career and education counselors and ultimately a plan for getting them out of poverty and more importantly a requirement that recipients meet certain goals and ultimately leave the public system. The system we have today relegates people to a life of poverty rather than lift them out of it. It diminishes the importance of the family unit rather than support it. It harms kids and holds parents unaccountable for their children. I’m just glad someone is looking for ways to improve it, even if it isn’t perfect.

tolawdjk 6 years ago

How is the headline false?

"Kansas GOP".... It is they who created it. "Income Tax Plan"...this is what they created. "Hits Poorest"....this is who will see the largest change under the "Kansas GOP" "Income Tax Plan".

Say what you want about the article, but the headline is pretty darn acurate.

optimist 6 years ago

You're right. It's not the headline I was referring to but rather the first line in the story that reads: "Revenue estimates show that House Republicans' income tax plan would hike tax rates only for the lowest income earners in Kansas". This is absolutely false. Their tax rates would not be increased because the rate is essentially below 0% and would remain below that even after the EITC is reduced. Only in Government parlance and in left wing ideology is this an actual cost to the EITC recipient. The money isn’t theirs and there is no entitlement to it. Why can’t we actually state the facts? If your opinion is that they should continue to receive this money in this manner and without any strings attached then have that discussion but we aren’t entitled to muddle the facts to suit our position.

I simply share the opinion with many that the methods our Government uses to “help” the poor are destructive and wasteful. I am very much in favor of helping my fellow American in need but I would like a better way of doing it and I am willing to invest my money for that cause and for that matter I already do. I don’t see the EITC as an investment but rather an enslavement of taxpayers and the recipients by the Government. Those that pay taxes are forced to pay taxes that fund this abominable program and the recipients are then beholden to the political party that is willing to give them the most free money for their vote.

coloradoan 6 years ago

I guess it depends on how you define the term "lowest income earners". In looking at the Kansas Tax Tables, anything in the taxable income column over $25.00 is taxed. If, as a single, you have the $2250 and $3000 exemption and deductions, then if you gross more than $5275, you are paying income tax. At that level of income, every dollar matters, heck every quarter matters. Sounds like some skin in the game to me. As for the EIC, I've never had it.

But if you are defining the term as anyone earning less than $5250 as a single person, I guess you're right - then they're not "paying taxes" - because they don't earn enough.

chootspa 6 years ago

Why yes. The Ministry of Truth approves of your reframing.

gudpoynt 6 years ago

GOP leader say it is an unforeseen consequence?

That's rich.

How about: it is a consequence unforeseen by GOP leaders.

melott 6 years ago

I don't agree. I think that this result was entirely foreseen by them and it is exactly what they wanted.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

The poor need to start voting, and when they vote, they need to vote with their own economic interests in mind.

Governor Blowback feels he is free to do this without risking political damage because the poor do not vote (or cannot vote with the new voter ID laws).

If the poor do not vote, then they have only themselves to blame. There is only so much that concerned, hand-wringing liberals can do. Especially in Kansas.

jafs 6 years ago

That's ok - you and many others do that more than enough for my taste.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years ago

All animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others.

George Orwell in Animal Farm

Stuart Sweeney 6 years ago

What do you mean "an unforeseen consequence", just be man enough to admit you want to kick them while they are down!

JayhawkFan1985 6 years ago

the great leap backwards off the GOP cliff into Hell continues...

Liberty275 6 years ago

Enterprising folks might make their own job. I realize that idea is foreign to some, but even I do some linux admin/web design in addition to my regular job. Ever heard of drop shipping?

jafs 6 years ago

There you have a lovely argument for why it's better to help those in poverty than simply blame them for it.

Unless, of course, you prefer higher crime rates.

jafs 6 years ago


The question is whether you prefer to help people that need help, or punish them after they've committed crimes because of it.

Both options cost money, and there have been studies showing that preventive programs are cheaper than punitive ones.

It's odd that you make the connection, but then stop there - what's your point?

jafs 6 years ago

A fan of "Les Miserables", I guess.

But, you'll note I didn't say it was an "excuse" for it, I simply commented on the connection, which was in fact posted by FHNC.

We can pay to help people, or we can pay to lock them up - I prefer to pay to prevent the crime in the first place, as it's both cheaper and prevents other negative consequences of crime (people getting hurt), and it's more humane.

jafs 6 years ago

I don't know whether that's true or not, but your attitude would apply there as well.

"No excuse".

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

Well, that's what Scrooge wanted. (See above.)

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago Here's a sweet little chart that shows an interesting fact; red states get the most in Federal tax dollars. Talk about corporate welfare!

jafs 6 years ago

That's an interesting chart - and it is simply ignored by many on the right who like to talk about how everybody should just take care of themselves.

Peacemaker452 6 years ago

It is an interesting chart, but like most graphics put out by special interest groups, it fails to tell the full story. It is designed to provoke emotional responses from people who do not bother to look into the details. If you actually go to the web site that produced the chart and dig into the research used, you find a very different story. Try going to this link ( and look at Tables 4 and 5 of the PDF. These tables list federal tax receipts and expenditures by state, broken down into categories that give a much clearer picture of where the money is flowing.

BTW: I am not a supporter of our current tax laws or federal expenditures, just trying to bring some clarity to the issue.

chootspa 6 years ago

PS - the Tax Foundation is owned by the Kochs and has been criticized for intentionally misleading data about tax burdens.

jafs 6 years ago

Is the chart accurate or not?

If so, then it is a clear and obvious illustration that many R states get more money from the federal government than they pay - so much for "self reliance".

usnsnp 6 years ago

If you want to do it right, you need to do away with all tax loopholes all they are is welfare also. If you doo this you could probably lower the State Tax for everybody to 3%. Also you see what the Republicans want to do here in taxes, the same thing will happen if a Republican is elected as President.

Patricia Davis 6 years ago

I think the underlying strategy is to get the poor people to leave Kansas. Fewer poor people less crime. Fewer poor people less money going down the endless drain. Shred that safety net and create a better Kansas. Problem solved and makes for a better gene pool. I'm sure they have prayed about it and God told them it was the Christian thing to do.

jafs 6 years ago

It seems to me that you'd be much happier living in a different country, one in which freedom wasn't a basic principle.

Alceste 6 years ago

The collective "power" of the poor must be properly utilized:

Have them gather; divide them into teams; place them about a wheel like thingy that will generate electricity by pushing the wheel thingy around and around; and have the "power" of the poor put to functional use: They will be paid a Kansas wage that exceeds their current wage (if they qualify) and equals any earned income credit once received and they will solve our state's energy demands (at least for lights an a/c). Win Win. This will also help keep families together as it is envisioned family teams will be certain to include even toddlers in electricity generation because it is so family friendly.

Meanwhile, around and about all the wheely things that need pushing, there shall be pastors of all sorts. We now have a family friendly, faith based initive which generates electricity. Hooray for Sam Brownback! The bestest possible gov ever in this best of all possible states!!!

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