UPDATED: TOPEKA – In a series of four amendments, the House eviscerated a bill that would have eliminated sales tax exemptions on residential utilities and religious organizations, among other things.
The only sales tax exemption the bill now eliminates is one on coin-operated laundries.
House Bill 2549 as it came out of committee would have added about $170 million to state coffers. The biggest gain would have come from eliminating a 1970s-era sales tax exemption on residential utilities, which would have netted a little under $140 million.
Rep. Jeff King, R-Independence, vice-chair of the House Taxation Committee, called the tax a 5.3 percent tax increase on all Kansans and highly regressive.
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The House's first action was to reinstate the sales tax exemption status for religious organizations. The amendment passed, 119-0.
“There is a strong consensus that we should not balance the budget of Kansas on the back of the poor," King said, noting that donations for churches were down.
The House then eliminated a tax on lottery tickets, which would have cost the state funds becuase it would have disqualified Kansas from some of the multistate games that are now available.