By Kim Wilhelm
The State of Kansas is looking for money to balance the budget and Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon says there's money available. On Thursday, she went before both the House and Senate tax committees to pitch her idea for eliminating various sales tax exemptions. She says by revising the exemption list, the state could recoup up to $200 million dollars - about half of the current budget shortfall.
House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Davis is also in favor of looking over the list. He says while there are deserving entities that should be included on the list, it has grown too large over the years.
"I've seen us grant tax exemption after tax exemption after tax exemption," said Davis. He says that has resulted in the tax burden being shifted.
"When a certain entity is not paying tax, often times the burden gets shifted onto someone else," said Davis.
For example, golfers who use a city/county-owned golf course do not pay sales tax on green fees. But golfers who play at a privately-owned course do pay sales tax.
"That is one of the things that doesn't make sense to me," said Davis. "I think that's one of the things we need to correct."
But other exemptions on the list are more controversial. Goodwill Industries of Kansas CEO Emily Compton is concerned her organization may lose tax exempt status. Each year, Compton says Goodwill saves between $50,000 and $60,000 by being able to purchase supplies and educational material tax-free.
"We're trying to meet the needs of those people who are employed, the people who are really struggling right now," said Compton. "Please don't make our job any harder than it is."
Another controversial item involves residential water bills. Currently, you don't pay sales tax on your water bill. This proposal would end that exemption.
The Senate committee did not introduce the measure Thursday. It may be considered in the House tax committee this session.