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House tax chair searching for fairness

The chairman of the House Taxation Committee sees tax fairness as spreading the burden around.

“Generally, what we’re looking at is, how do you distribute the tax burden broadly?” said Steven Johnson, a Republican from Assaria. “That is the key. What is the broad base, where we all have some role and skin in the game. Perfect fairness, unfortunately, is probably not something that can be achieved in everyone’s mind. There’s a different perspective of exactly what fair is.”

One area where brick and mortar retailers in Kansas are looking for fairness is in tax treatment when compared to internet retailers. A hearing on an internet sales tax bill will happen this session.

“We are going to try to get to that on Thursday,” said Johnson. “If we are still to embroiled in the Senate Bill 22 issues and it will confuse it too much, we may have to put that off until after turnaround. That one has had fairly wide support just in leveling the playing field, because there’s definitely a way that as we increase our internet sales, we’re continuing to decrease the part of the sales tax base that we do tax.”

There has been some discussion to tying a proposal to reduce food sales tax to one taxing internet sales, but it remains to be seen what will happen with that. From the cost side, school funding is one issue Johnson said they must
address.

“Is it the $90 million per year that we’ve been looking at from the Department of Education?” asked Johnson. “Is it the $360 million that the court has said and how do we fund that? The Legislature weighs in, the courts weigh in, but it’s really just the people across the state coming together as best we can, having open discussions and trying to hammer it out.”

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office must prepare briefs to defend whatever action the Legislature takes. They’d like to see a final bill in March.

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