Last week, Kansas House and Senate negotiators agreed on a new tax plan that will sharply cut income taxes for wealthy state residents while at the same time raising taxes on the poor. The result, predictably, will be a shortfall in state revenue that will undoubtedly force additional cuts to state services.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides the analysis, but you don’t have to trust the left-leaning think tank for the spin. A newly formed group of retired Kansas Republican legislators are also declaring that enough is enough. The bottom line is this: If you’re wealthy enough and smart enough to structure your business affairs correctly, you can avoid both corporate taxes and income taxes. But if you’re poor, you will have to choose between whether you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or a state-funded rebate on sales taxes charged on groceries. One or the other! Not both! Because if there is a tax loophole that favors working-class Americans, we’d better close it!
The details are different, but the basic outline is similar to the ideas codified in Paul Ryan’s Mitt-Romney-endorsed budget: we’ll pay for tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting services that help the poor. Mitt Romney might not be as conservative as Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, but when the bills passed by a GOP-controlled legislature start arriving on his desk, his response will be identical: he’ll sign it.
Meanwhile, the state plans to cut the top tax rate on the wealthy from 6.45% to 4.9%, and eliminate corporate taxes completely by 2017. Also, the state plans to repeal a "majority" of itemized deductions. And yes, most residents would have to then choose between the earned income tax credit or the grocery refund...and not get both. The bottom line: business owners in the state would get a massive tax break,while workers would have to pick up most of the tab. Kansas schools would also became dangerously underfunded, and the tax break that Kansas residents would have gotten on food by eliminating sales taxes on groceries has mysteriously vanished from the GOP tax plan.
Tornado alley indeed, except this one's ripping through the pocketbooks of Kansas working class citizens. Pay attention, because these tax games are coming to a red state legislation and a GOP congress near you...