March 4, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Sen. Rob Olson rebate proposal exposes his flat tax hypocrisy

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State Senator Rob Olson (R-Olathe) has said he opposes the flat tax because it gives too much relief to high-income taxpayers, but now he is proposing a property tax rebate that gives the largest rebates to owners of the most expensive homes.

SB 332 would transfer $50 million of state taxpayer money each year to county treasurers for homeowner rebates.  The bill instructs counties to distribute the money proportionally based on home values; if your home is X% of all residential values in the county, you get X% of the rebate pool.  The owners of the most expensive homes pay the most in taxes, so it makes sense that they would get the largest rebates.

The same is true of state income tax – those with the most income pay the highest share of taxes.  Residents with adjusted gross incomes above $100,00 account for 62% of all AGI in Kansas, but they pay 70% of the state income tax.

Olson voted for the flat tax several times last year before flipping and voting to sustain Kelly’s veto with his friend, Senator Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha).  Their votes to prevent tax relief are seen by many as part of their ongoing feud with Senate President Ty Masterson.

This year, he joined Kelly’s press conference to support her proposed increase in the standard deduction but keep tax rates high.  Most taxpayers have much higher savings with the flat tax proposal, and more than 340,000 Kansans would be exempt from paying.  But the feud with Masterson seems more important to Olson than giving people income tax relief.

SB 332 is a tax shift, not serious tax relief

SB 332 would transfer $50 million annually from the State General Fund to counties, which would then use the money to distribute the money proportionally as very small property tax rebates to homeowners.  That is not good tax policy for several reasons.

First, it really amounts to a tax shift – some of your income and sales tax that would support state services is sent to counties, which, over time, creates a need for more state taxes to pay for services.

It also enables excessive taxation at the local level.  Local officials will get credit for sending a rebate check, thereby reducing some pressure to operate more efficiently and provide real property tax relief.  Local elected officials arguably are the primary beneficiaries of Olson’s proposal, and one must wonder if that is his real goal.

If you’d like to ask Senator Olson how he justifies his contradictory positions, he can be reached at [email protected] and 785-296-7358.


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