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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Adventures at the Statehouse: Looking at the new tax plan in wrap-up of legislative session

  • In the early hours of Sunday, June 2, the Kansas Legislature closed the wrap up session on Day 99 of the 2013 Legislative Session.
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  • In the early hours of Sunday, June 2, the Kansas Legislature closed the wrap up session on Day 99 of the 2013 Legislative Session. Since then governor has signed conference committee reports of the wrap up session into law. Thursday, June 20, was the final day – the ceremonial Sine Die, or "official end of the session."
    Because of the extent of the changes in tax policy, the budget and other bills, I am going to give my wrap up report in parts. This is Part 1 – The Tax Plan.
    The tax plan
    In the end, the House of Representatives gave in to the governor's demand to raise the sales tax. It joined the Senate in passing a new tax plan on Day 99 of the session and sending it to the governor's desk for signature. Included in the final tax plan was a permanent sales tax increase to 6.15 percent.
    The tax plan cuts the standard deductions on single heads of households and married filing jointly by $311 million and reduces all itemized deductions for items such as home mortgage interest and property taxes paid by an additional $664 million. The only itemized deduction left untouched was for charitable contributions. There was a partial restoration of the refundable food sales tax rebate program, which had been repealed in 2012.
    A new series of individual income tax rate cuts per year will be provided beginning in tax year 2014, when the current bottom bracket of 3.0 percent would be reduced to 2.7 percent, and the current top bracket of 4.9 percent would be reduced to 4.8 percent. By the tax year 2018, the top bracket would be further reduced to 3.9 percent and the lower to 2.3. Future income tax rate relief would be based on any revenues that exceeds the previous fiscal year's levels by 2 percent.
    The new sales tax law generates over $777 million in revenue for the state.
    Several bills were added to the tax conference committee report:
    A change to the definition of natural gas for severance tax purposes by adding helium.
    The addition of an additional 23 counties (generally those with populations of 15,000 or less) into the ROZ program. That is the Rural Opportunity Zone program that offers individuals who relocate from outside of the state to qualifying counties a full state income tax exemption through tax year 2016, and the opportunity to receive student loan repayments from those qualifying counties that also have opted to participate in a special repayment-matching program with the state.
    Repeal of the requirement that the title of certain tax-exempt property constructed or purchased with the proceeds of Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) be transferred to the city or county issuing the IRBs during the duration of the exemption.
    The authorization for counties to grant property tax abatement or credits to owners of homesteads destroyed or substantially destroyed by earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, storm, or other event that the governor has declared a disaster, taking effect for taxable years after Dec. 31, 2011, and ending before Jan. 1, 2014.
    Page 2 of 2 - Keep in touch
    You can track my activities on my website www.meier4kansas.com, my FaceBook page www.facebook.com/Meier4Kansas, and Twitter www.twitter.com/melaniemeier. I am privileged and honored to be your voice in the Kansas Capitol. You can e-mail me atmelanie.meier@house.ks.gov.
    Melanie Meier is the Kansas House representative for the 41st District, which includes most of Leavenworth.

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