Revenue chief suggests dropping tax exemptions

TOPEKA — Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon went before the Senate and House taxation committees Thursday to recommend that certain sales tax exemptions be eliminated.

Doing that would garner about $200 million for state coffers. About $55 million in fiscal year 2011 would come from eliminating exemptions for various nonprofit organizations, including Victory in the Valley and the West Sedgwick County-Sunrise Rotary Club.

Wagnon recommended a bill that would provide an exemption for all similar organizations or do away completely with the exemptions.

The recommendations were developed by the Kansas Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations. Annual fundraisers such as Girl Scout cookies or popcorn for the Boy Scouts would be exempted, Wagnon told the House Taxation Committee.

The bulk of the money — $140.28 million — would come from eliminating a state tax exemption on utility bills, she said.

That would be the most controversial exemption. Currently, people pay a local sales tax on utility bills but not a statewide one.

The House committee introduced the bill for discussion, but the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee declined to introduce the measure.