Gov. Sam Brownback R will soon sign what he calls the “fabulous package” of sales tax hikes and income tax cuts passed by the Republican-dominated legislature over the weekend. The sales tax rate increase will apply to food as well as other purchases, making it even more targeted at the lower end of the income scale than a similarly regressive North Carolina proposal that would at least exempt groceries and prescription drugs.
The bill continues a trend whereby Brownback and fellow conservatives have shifted the tax burden in the state towards sales and property taxes, which are disproportionately paid by the poor and middle class. Even prior to this legislation, Kansas’ taxes were steeply regressive. A January report from the Institute for Tax & Economic Policy found that the top 1 percent of non-elderly Kansans paid state and local taxes at a rate less than half that faced by the bottom 85 percent of earners.