Property tax relief reduction plan introduced to loosen Kansans’ budgets

A property tax relief reduction plan has been introduced to help loosen Kansans’ budgets.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 4:07 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A property tax relief reduction plan has been introduced to help loosen Kansans’ budgets.

On Monday, Sept. 26, Kansas State Representatives Vic Miller (D-Topeka) and Mike Amyx (D-Lawrence) - members of the Interim House Taxation Committee - introduced a 3-pronged property tax reduction plan with the support of dozens of Democratic incumbents and candidates.

“For those of us that invest in home ownership, we do so in the hope that that investment will increase in value and the equity in our home will become a major part of our retirement nest egg,” Rep. Miller - a former local official - said. “We do not expect, however, that taxes on our homes will rob us of the ability to maintain and continue ownership of those homes.”

According to the Representatives, Kansans on a fixed income do not have the means in their budget to accommodate unnecessary property tax hikes, however, they have been doing so for around three decades.

“They’re telling me how much they’re financially hurting,” said Kim Zito, Democratic House Candidate in District 67, who has knocked on thousands of doors and heard from countless homeowners. “Budgets are already squeezed, and rising taxes hurt households even more. That includes my family, as well,” she said. Kim continued, “I was livid that this was overlooked all these years. It feels like a punch to the gut when we’re doing everything right, and then we open up our 2022 notice of estimated ad valorem taxes and see a 7.4% hike – It just hurts. I had the same reaction that everyone else did: What?”

Since 1992, the Reps. indicated that the residential assessment rate has grown from 35% to 54%.

“One single mother I spoke with shared that unless we can fix this very soon, she’ll be taxed out of her home, and ultimately forced to take her children out of her award-winning school district,” said Courtney Tripp, a candidate for the Kansas House in District 117.

Tripp noted that Kansans worry they will be taxed out of their homes and pushed out of their communities due to skyrocketing inflation and little help headed their way.

“This classification amendment is exactly what our fixed income neighbors need,” said Allison Hougland, Democratic candidate for the House in District 15 and licensed realtor. “Reducing the tax rate from 11.5% to 9% will help at every level. Let’s put it to the voters.”

The first prong of the plan calls for an amendment to the Kansas Constitution to reduce the assessment level of residential property from the mentioned 11.5% to 9%.

The second prong of the plan calls for the replenishment and enhancement of the Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund, which was established so the state would provide direct funds to local governments for property tax relief. However, the Reps. said for the last 20 years, the state has failed to do so.

Lastly, the third prong of the plan calls for an amendment to state law to raise the residential property exemption from the statewide school mill levy to $65,000. In the last legislative session, the Reps. said the question of residential property exemptions for the 20 mill USD general fund levy from $20,000 to $40,000. This culminated an estimated average property tax reduction of $46 per home.

The Reps. noted that the last change would decrease receipts to the State School District Finance Fund by about $55 million - an amount that would be made up through additional appropriations to ensure schools remain fully funded.

However, House Republican leaders have said Democrats have been the ones to oppose property tax cut efforts in the past.

“House Republicans have been trying to cut taxes in Kansas for decades,” said Republican Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita). “Every step of the way these efforts have been opposed by Democrats. Governor Kelly has vetoed tax relief on multiple occasions and Kansas Democrats have constantly demonized tax cuts in their public comments. Now in an election year, they are having a change of heart. The economic pain spoken of today is the direct result of Kansas Democrat policies. While the Kansas Democrats engage in election year theatrics, Kansas House Republicans remain committed to providing real, across-the-board tax relief.”

The Reps. indicated that with the new plan, Kansans will save over $694 million through the reduction of the residential assessment rate from 11.5% to 9%.