Kansas City opposes state sales tax cap

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bill in Jefferson City to limit sales taxes has some city leaders concerned.

A quarter of Kansas City’s tax budget comes from sales taxes, paying for services like firefighters, police and public transit.

A bill introduced by a Republican from the St. Louis area would prevent any municipality or other political governing body from raising the combined sales taxes people pay above 12 percent.

Already there are restaurants and other businesses downtown that charge more than 12 percent in sales taxes, thanks to overlapping taxing districts with multiple voter-approved sales taxes.

“All taxes, as far as I’m concerned, are regressive,” said Bishop James Tindall, a sales tax cap supporter. “Based on the fact that there are very few taxes that ultimately end up in the central city as a result of people paying their taxes. 12 percent sounds like a fair and good number.”

But city leaders don’t want limits on their ability to raise money for infrastructure, parks and new construction, particularly if voters have signed off on the tax hikes.

Sales taxes are considered regressive, hitting poor people harder than the wealthy.

But voters often are more willing to support sales taxes than income or property tax hikes.

“It would put a cap on all sales taxes and give away our ability here in Kansas City, as a city government to collect sales taxes that our residents approve and to do the things we have to do in order to keep this city on the path that it’s on,” said Mayor Sly James.

City leaders also are not sure how to implement the cap, should it become law, in places that already exceed 12 percent.

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