Republican leaders champion flat income tax, historic rate cuts in Kansas

As Democrats in eight blue states advance unprecedented new wealth tax schemes, Republican leaders in the Sunflower State are laser-focused on delivering pro-growth income tax cuts and strengthening their state’s economy.

Both the House and Senate are considering bills that would lower and simplify income tax rates down to a single, flat rate. With the support of Senate President Ty Masterson, and bill sponsor Senator Caryn Tyson, SB 169 is moving full speed ahead to a vote on the Senate floor this Thursday.

Thanks to their efforts and those of many other pro-taxpayer legislators, Kansans are close to keeping more of their hard-earned dollars. And a flat tax would make it more difficult for future politicians to raise taxes – since every voter would know a tax hike would impact them.

A Tax Cut for Every Kansan

Kansas currently uses a 3-bracket system to tax personal income, with a top rate of 5.7% kicking in at $30,000 for single filers. Earnings over $15,000 are taxed at a 5.2% rate, with a 3.1% tax on the rest.

The Senate proposal would consolidate these brackets into a single, flat rate of 4.75% on earnings over $5,225. This threshold ensures no Kansan would see a tax increase. In fact, the new, lower rate would save them nearly $600 million every year. Thousands of small businesses, which file their taxes on the personal side of the code, would get relief.

As well as allowing families, individuals, and small businesses to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, the tax cut package spearheaded by Sen. Masterson would make Kansas an attractive destination for new residents and investment. Lowering income taxes is a powerful way to spur population growth for years to come.

States Are Moving to Zero

Over the last decade, people and jobs have fled out of high tax states and into states that impose low- and no-income taxes. The flexibility to work remote is amplifying this trend. To compete for that investment, a growing movement of states is working to reduce and phase out their income taxes.

The last several years have witnessed a record number of states move to streamline their income taxes to a flat rate and put them on the path to zero. In the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, five states – Idaho, Georgia, Mississippi, Arizona, and Iowa – exchanged their progressive income tax system for a single-rate tax. That brings the total number of states that have enacted a flat tax to 14.

Additionally, there are eight states – including nearby Texas and South Dakota – that do not impose individual income taxes of any kind.

This trend shows no signs of slowing in 2023. More than a dozen states – including North Carolina, Mississippi, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky – are cutting taxes and racing to zero. Doing nothing would cause Kansas to fall behind.

Revenue Triggers Ensure Responsible Future Relief

Some states have implemented “revenue triggers” to further reduce income tax rates. This mechanism requires that state revenues grow a certain amount above budgetary needs before tax rates are reduced.

The House proposal for a flat tax, HB 2061, would similarly funnel excess revenue into a dedicated fund, reducing state income tax rates until they eventually reach zero.

However, some other proposals under consideration in the Senate threaten to undermine these tax cuts.

One such bill would end the three-year phase-out of the sales tax on food enacted in 2022, re-imposing the higher rate of 6.5% on food that does not qualify as “healthy,” based on a new definition imposed by the state.

Sound tax policy is about collecting the revenue necessary to pay for core functions of government, and to do so in a manner that is least disruptive to economic growth and job creation. Kansas lawmakers would do well to avoid using the tax code to try to make people skinnier. Aside from the policy arguments against a pay-for designed to encourage weight loss, such a provision can cause future political headaches for those who vote for it and distract from what is an overall pro-growth tax code overhaul.

Kansas families, small businesses, and individuals continue to suffer from inflation, driven by out-of-control spending in Washington. The flat tax legislation set to be voted on in Topeka would provide much-needed relief to households across Kansas. With a full rainy day fund and $3 billion in surplus tax revenue, 2023 presents a golden opportunity for legislators to enact tax reform that will make Kansas a more attractive place to live, work and invest.

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