Kansas lawmakers to discuss two competing proposals for a flat tax

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- A new proposal could help solve the Kansas budget crisis.

On Monday lawmakers will debate the merits of a flat tax, where all workers would pay the same income tax rate.

Right now, Kansas has two tax brackets, but some lawmakers want to reduce that to one. As part of these flat tax talks, some lawmakers are also pushing for the elimination of sales tax on food.

The House Committee on Taxation will discuss two competing proposals during Monday's meeting. One would be a flat tax of 3.9-percent, where pretty much all deductions including business deductions would be eliminated. The other would be a 5-percent flat tax, which is higher than what anyone pays right now,but the trade-off is that lawmakers would want sales tax on food eliminated as part of that bill. That would be a welcome relief as Kansas is one of only 14 states that charge sales tax on food.

Right now, Kansas is facing a more than $1-billion deficit over the next two years. Some projections show a flat tax would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars more every year in revenue and be a lot more stable.

Supporters like the idea of a fair tax where everyone pays the same percentage regardless of income. But others believe a flat tax punishes the poor as they will end up paying more in taxes under either proposal.

Some believe a flat tax has a better chance of passing than raising taxes elsewhere, and Governor Brownback’s office says the Governor has been discussing this idea with lawmakers.