How high can sales taxes go in KC area?
The Kansas City Star
This doesn’t sound too appetizing: The total sales tax at restaurants in the Power & Light District could reach 13.85 percent within five years. Dining on the Country Club Plaza could mean a 13.35 percent sales tax added to the bill.
The potential sales tax rates for many retail stores could reach 10.85 percent in Kansas City within Jackson County, 10.225 percent in Independence and Lee’s Summit, and 9.225 percent in Liberty.
And many tax rates could be close to or above 10 percent in cities on both sides of the state line as publicly subsidized community improvement and transportation development districts multiply around the area.
If there’s a tipping point on sales taxes, the Kansas City region seems closer than ever to finding it. In recent years, politicians have leaned heavily on those taxes for extra revenue, fearing voters would reject higher property taxes. But sales taxes are regressive and can’t remain the “go-to” tax of choice indefinitely.
The biggest changes could occur in Missouri.
State legislators might ask voters to endorse a one-cent sales tax for better road maintenance.
Lawmakers also could boost the state tax by a half cent to help offset a proposed — and very costly — income tax cut. Those changes phase in over five years and don’t need voter approval.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders may ask voters for a one-cent sales tax to fund a commuter rail system.
In Kansas, many cities have been boosting tax rates inside large retail areas.
Corbin Park developers want a 1.5 percent extra sales tax to help pay for upgrades needed to woo tenants. That would bring the rate to 10.15 percent, the same that will be charged at the upscale Prairiefire retail project. Both are in Overland Park.
Is there any relief in sight?
Missouri voters and legislators eventually might reject some or all of the proposed tax plans in that state.
In Kansas, lawmakers have to decide whether to allow a planned .6 percent reduction in the state sales tax to take effect later this year. Gov. Sam Brownback wants to keep it to help generate revenue and make up for the radical income tax cuts he and the Legislature approved in 2012. But some GOP lawmakers want to let the sales tax lapse.
If that happens, sales taxes in many but not all parts of Overland Park, Olathe and other Kansas-side cities would drop to just over 8 percent. That’s still not historically low, but it sounds a lot better than double-digit rates.