Lawmakers Consider Big Changes For Non-Profits

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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The proposal has been voted down before. A new bill calls for shutting down sales tax exemptions for certain non-profits, allowing the state to bring in more revenue. It's a proposal some lawmakers and organization leaders said could do more harm than good.

"It really concerns me that, in a time of need where you have more and more people asking for these services, that those services would potentially be threatened," said Shelly Conrady with the Greater Wichita YMCA.

Non-profit organizations around the state could be in for a fight when it comes to maintaining their sales-tax exemption status as state lawmakers look for ways to deal with a tight budget.

"Whether the whole thing gets passed or we swallow part of it, or what we do, cause it's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for us here," said Mark Reed, with the Sedgwick County Zoo.

The House bill calls for exemptions for certain organizations be shut down. Those non-profits include everything from the YMCA and Girl Scouts to the Zoo. It also calls for a sales tax of 5.3 percent be levied.

While lawmakers said the state needs the revenue, some say this bill would place more of a burden on the state.

"The state gives sales tax exemptions to organizations that earn it because it is lost revenue to the state, but we're willing to give it to them when the government can't provide a service," said State Rep. Raj Goyle, (D), 87th District.

The Greater Wichita YMCA had 500 families apply for financial assistance in the past two months and has nearly 84,000 kids involved in its programs. Leaders worry that adding a sales tax would leave thousands without another option when it comes to everything from child care to after school programs.

"You're going to see kids in latch-key and end up home alone and we just don't want to see that type of thing happen," said Conrady.

For now, local organizations are working to find ways to minimize the impact of the tax - should it pass - and hoping lawmakers reconsider.

"We don't want to be passing it on to our consumers," said Reed. "We try to keep it as affordable as possible."

"This is not the time to be going down this road of the annual fight to be closing down exemptions on organizations that help our community," said Goyle.

This bill is a committee bill and is not sponsored. It has yet to make it to a hearing. The bill was scheduled to for a hearing in the taxation committee this week, but that was changed to next week. Now lawmakers say it may not even make next week's agenda.

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