You may have heard the quote, “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” Well, that is what I did the last couple of weeks in an attempt to get tax relief for Kansans.
Tax Relief in Senate Substitute for House Bill (Sen Sub HB) 2239: Property tax freeze via an income tax rebate for low-income seniors and disabled veterans, known as the Golden Years, passed the Senate for at least the third year in a row. Hopefully our friends in the House will help this legislation become law. The bill had a few other provisions: it would increase the standard income tax deduction by 10%, providing real tax relief for all Kansans who pay income tax; it would provide an option for Kansas taxpayers on State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction who are limited by the federal $10,000 cap; it would allow taxpayers who got caught in the carry back carry forward conflict between federal and state statutes from 2018 to 2021 to subtract the loses and carry forward on their state income tax; it would allow exemptions for the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Employer Retention Credit programs; it would create a tax credit program for donors to technical and community colleges, capped at $7 million a year; and it would create a museum voluntary checkoff program so that individuals may donate to museums of their choosing when they file income tax returns. This tax bill passed 36 to 2. I voted Yes.
Small Business Property Tax Relief: For some reason a bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee had property tax language making changes to property law that had passed last year. The language would have had unintended consequences, so I worked with others to clean it up. Tax bills should be run thru the tax committee and not thru other committees like Judiciary. I also took the opportunity to amend the bill so that businesses that were shut down by the Governor in 2020 could apply for up to $7,500 to help pay for property taxes owed even though they could not conduct business. It was language that had passed the Senate and had been negotiated with the House. However, politics got in the way and the language was lost on the last day of session last year. This could be paid for with the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal SPARK money that are unspent and help businesses still feeling the pain of the 2020 Governor shutdown. Sen Sub HB 2416 passed 26 to 11. I voted Yes.
Early in session the Senate Tax Committee, that I chair, passed legislation to remove the state sales tax on food and allow local governments an option to remove local sales tax. That bill was never debated on the Senate floor. The House did not have one tax bill debated on the House floor this year. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the final days of session. I will continue to work diligently for Kansas taxpayers.
Last week the Senate worked over 50 bills on the Senate floor in less than three days. Senators would get a list of bills late in the evening and it would take most of the night to read them. It was difficult to get amendments because of the number of bills and the burdensome level of work for the lawyers writing the amendments and others involved in the process. Obviously, there were too many bills to cover in this update. The activity can be found at www.KSLegislature.org under the Senate journals.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.