Friday, 12 June 2015


Kansas's state House voted early this morning in favor of a tax bill that adds to the burden of funding state government for poor families. The bill would raise the sales tax rate from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent. Since the poor spend more of their money on basic goods and services, they are likely to be affected disproportionately by the legislation.
The decision by the lower chamber is the latest new demand that Kansas has placed on the poor. "It's hard to imagine that what we have right now could get worse, but this actually makes it worse," said Annie McKay, the executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, which is a research organization in Topeka.
Earlier this year, the Republican majority codified controversial restrictions on how welfare recipients can spend their money, barring them from using public benefits at swimming pools and movie theaters, among other establishments. Lawmaker’s also limited ATM withdrawals for welfare recipients to $25 a day, a measure critics said would make life far more difficult for the poor. Those changes followed a decision several years ago to overhaul taxes in a way that boosted the incomes of the middle class and wealthy but reduced the incomes of poor families, by raising sales taxes and by limiting a provision that exempted food purchases from sales taxes.
This chart shows the impact of the overhaul:

Critics of the new provisions say they would make a regressive tax code even more regressive. Under current law, the bottom fifth of earners pay 4.7 percent of their income in general sales taxes (not including specialized business and excise taxes), compared to 0.7 percent for the top 1 percent of earners, according to the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. 

HENRY E. J Williams

Author & Editor

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