It’s difficult to pay attention to what’s happening in Topeka these days when most of our energy and attention is spent moving snow, worrying about getting to work or getting the kids to their schools and activities as winter delivers a late-season pair of punches.
But the Kansas Association of Counties has highlighted House Bill 2285, which may be deserving of as much attention as any slippery sidewalk or snow-packed pavement.
That piece of legislation would change the definition of some items for tax purposes, and the upshot is that certain businesses will get a break on property taxes and — you guessed it! — the load likely will end up being passed on to residential homeowners, farm land and small businesses.
At issue are items that for 100 years have been classified as “fixtures.” Heretofore, if an item was a fixture, it was part of real property for tax purposes. If you’re scratching your head, an example of a fixture within a structure would be the heating and air conditioning equipment. This bill would reclassify certain fixtures and in effect move them from taxable status to tax-exempt personal property. Elevators, loading platforms and the like would be reclassified, the county association warns.
The state’s property valuation division has provided information estimating that in Montgomery County, 54 percent of the tax base would be shifted. In McPherson County, it would be 24 percent. In Douglas County it would be only 0.18 of a percent. Here are the changes for other area counties: Leavenworth, 0.3 of a percent; Franklin, 1.09 percent; Jefferson, 0.77 of a percent; Johnson, 0.1 of a percent, Osage, 1.92 percent, and Shawnee, 0.6 of a percent.
Statewide, the change would be 1.92 percent. According to the county association, the state budget division indicates the bill would cause a loss of nearly $583 million in assessed valuation — translating into a statewide loss of $76 million of property taxes and a loss of $11.7 million for the Brownback budget.
Where is that money going to come from? Hint: Look in the mirror, then look at your checkbook.
This would be as palatable as insisting that you take the chains off your car tires and then expecting you to drive up 14th Street to the top of Mount Oread before the snow and ice are cleared.
There’s simply no compelling reason for making this change in state law.