Topeka More criticism emerged Tuesday over Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan as figures showed the poorest of Kansans would face a huge increase in their tax liability.
A non-partisan policy group said Brownback’s proposal would benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said its analysis found “that the bottom 80 percent of the state’s income distribution would collectively see a tax hike under the Brownback plan, while the best off 20 percent of Kansans would see substantial tax cuts.”
The Washington, D.C., research group, which advocates for progressive taxes, added, “For most middle- and low-income Kansans, the tax break from the income tax rate cuts would be completely offset by the loss of income tax credits and itemized deductions, as well as a higher sales tax rate.”
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka called Brownback’s proposal “Robin Hood in reverse.”
Hensley said of Brownback, “He is stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.”
Brownback says plan is pro-growth
Brownback, a Republican, has proposed decreasing state income tax rates, eliminating the state income tax for thousands of businesses, doing away with numerous tax credits and deductions, and keeping the state sales tax at 6.3 cents per dollar, which under current law is supposed to drop to 5.7 cents per dollar in 2013.
Brownback has said his proposal will lure businesses to Kansas and spur economic development. He said his intent is to eventually phase out the state income tax.
“I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas – and will put more money into the pockets of Kansas families and businesses,” Brownback said in his State of the State address.
“Growth that will allow us to further reduce tax rates and increase our competitiveness. Growth that will see people move to Kansas instead of leaving our state,” he said.
More numbers emerging
As a group, low-income families would see an astronomical tax increase, according to Kansas Department of Revenue figures released by legislators.
The amount of individual income tax revenue would decrease by 12 percent overall, but it would affect different groups of taxpayers differently.
Those Revenue Department figures show there were 564,328 Kansas tax filers with adjusted gross incomes of $25,000 or less in the 2009 tax year. Currently, that group receives a total refund of $1.7 million. Under Brownback’s plan, that group would have a total tax liability of $86.5 million. That is more than a 5,000 percent increase in tax liability and averages $156 more per filer.
Meanwhile, there are 21,158 Kansas tax filers with adjusted gross incomes of $250,000 or more. Under Brownback’s plan, they would pay an average of $5,239 less in taxes, and as a group $110.8 million less than now, which is a 18.5 percent tax cut.
Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon, who also served as the state’s chief tax official for eight years, said Brownback has picked banks and wealthy corporations over people.
“This isn’t even remotely fair, and it drains funding from education,” Wagnon said.
Under Brownback’s plan, individual Kansans will lose $180 million in tax credits, while banks and wealthy corporations would retain nearly all of their credits, said Wagnon, who served as secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue from 2003 until 2011.
Brownback’s plan would get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable contribution deduction, child care and dependent care deductions, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the tax credit for families who adopt children, and the sales tax on food rebate program.
Removing the rebate on sales taxes paid on food will take money from more than 365,000 Kansans, while ending the state portion of the EITC would hurt more than 227,000 working Kansans, Wagnon said.
Brownback has said he planned to take funds saved from junking the EITC and plow them into programs to help the poor.
Hensley said this runs counter to Republican rhetoric “to reward work and not reward welfare.”