August 7, 2010
Tax free weekends are underway in several surrounding states, but not in Kansas. Some legislators say the Sunflower State is losing out on lots of revenue because of it.
"When somebody goes to buy something for school, they end up spending a whole bunch of other money that they are paying tax on," explains Dick Kelsey, (R) 26th Senate District.
Since 2007, Oklahomans have not had to pay sales tax on clothing and shoes in the days before school starts. Missouri, since 2004. Kelsey says Kansas businesses are missing out.
"We don't live in an isolated bubble," Kelsey said. "People do it. If we can save a buck going across the state line, people do it all the time. Whether it's gas tax, cigarette tax, sales tax... all these kinds of things, even income taxes."
Several shoppers at JC Penney in West Wichita agreed.
"When we go to Minnesota to visit relatives, I usually spend more money there because they don't have taxes all year round," said Michelle Gronewald.
"It would be nice, but where would they charge us on the other side of it?" asked Jennifer Twietmeyer, who was shopping for back-to-school clothes for her daughter. "Would something else have to be increased to pay for this tax free weekend? I don't know if it would be worth it."
The idea has come up in Topeka for the past several years. It passed the house in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but failed in the Senate every time. In Oklahoma and Missouri, the tax free items include all clothing and shoes under $100, but not things like backpacks and handbags.
"There is a dramatic loss of business in Kansas on this weekend when they're doing it," Kelsey said.
According to Kelsey, the sales tax issue will likely come up again in the 2011 legislature.