Let’s Talk About Sales Tax

July 14, 2020

In 2015, the Kansas Legislature was in a crisis of their own making. Devastating upper-class tax cuts were taking their toll on essential services, and the Supreme Court had to order lawmakers to fully fund our schools. So that year, after long debate, Republicans chose to hike the state sales tax rate from 6.15% to 6.5%.

Sales taxes disproportionately impact the poor. The graph below shows, in an average of all states, that inequitable state and local tax policies place the tax burden on our poorest citizens. Why? Because when you earn $20,000 per year, that 10% you pay at the cash register is a much higher percentage of your income than it is when you earn $1,000,000 per year.

Making matters worse, Kansas is one of the only states that taxes food at the same rate as luxury items. The average family of four spends $1,100 per month on groceries. State and local taxes add an additional 10% – about $100 per month. That’s $1,200 per year, a particularly staggering amount for families earning minimum wage.

Next year, the Kansas Legislature is going to have to deal with another budget crisis, this one due to the fallout of COVID-19. Which means this November, we have an important choice to make. Will we continue to elect leaders who have proven incapable of making choices in the best interests of working Kansans? Or will we learn from experience?

Resource article: https://itep.org/whopays/