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Kansas Senate Proposes Flat Tax Cut for High Earners, Undoes Food Tax Relief

Senate President Ty Masterson proposed a plan to decrease taxes for high earners by undoing food tax relief. The Senate tax committee approved a $566 million flat tax proposal to reduce the income tax rate for all brackets to 4.75%, with sales tax only on “healthy” food, based on the article published by Kansas Reflector on February 20, 2023. Masterson highlighted job creation’s significance and a tax structure to support it.

Masterson praised Gov. Kelly’s “axe the tax” but urged looking at the bigger picture. His proposal suggests repealing gradual elimination of state sales tax on food, cutting revenue by $450 million by 2025. Instead, Senate Bill 248 exempts some food from sales tax, reducing revenue by $284 million next fiscal year, according to Kansas State Legislature. Masterson aims for tax cuts, not healthy eating.

Opponents of the “healthy foods” legislation, including grocers and family advocates, argue it would create confusion and reduce revenue for local governments. The legislation defines healthy foods based on the federal Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, which includes a variety of food items.

The Kansas Appleseed organization sent out mailers advocating for the elimination of sales tax on food, which drew criticism from Sen. Caryn Tyson, who argued that the reduction already applied to groceries.

The tax committee considered several proposals, including Senate Bill 169, which would eliminate income tax for those earning less than $5,225 annually and apply a 4.75% rate to all others.

Some senators are concerned that the bill, which is similar to former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax experiment, will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Kansans and reduce state revenue.

Despite these concerns, the committee passed the bill on a party-line vote, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

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