Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approve renewal of 1% earnings tax

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In Tuesday’s municipal election, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved an extension on the city’s 1% earnings tax.

According to unofficial final results, 77% of voters said yes, while 23% said no on the question to renew the tax, which those who live and work in Kansas City pay.

The e-tax has been around since the 1960s, and Tuesday night, voters decided it will be around for at least another 5 years.

“Time and time again, in 2011, 2016, now in 2021, people of Kansas City have said how important the earnings tax is for our future,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said Tuesday night.

It’s the largest single source of revenue in the city’s budget, generating roughly $270 million for the city annually, which goes to city services like fire, police, trash and street repair.

It’s vital in Lucas’ view.

“The people of Kansas City support our local governance’s approaches. We support our local earnings tax, and we support being able to say how we can run our city for the best interests for the future of Kansas City,” Lucas said.

But even though it passed once again, some people believe there could be another way to raise funds for the city.

The earnings tax has taken a big hit during the pandemic due to layoffs, and people working from home will be able to apply for e-tax refunds when they file their taxes.

First District Councilwoman Heather Hall argues the earnings tax is too dependent on circumstances.

“I think it’s a really dangerous position to be in, for a city government to have their budget be strictly hinging on the hopes of the peoples saying yes to tax,” she said.

While the tax passed again with little opposition, Hall hopes it will eventually phase out, with a new tax that she believes will make more sense replacing it.

“People don’t want to be told they have to pay a certain amount of money just to live or work in a community. That’s not OK,” she said.

But it will be at least a few years until that conversation will happen. The earnings tax will remain for another five years before it will go before Kansas City voters again.

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