The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

November 2, 2007

In our view: Tax tempers could flare

Missouri lawmakers didn’t endear themselves to many Kansans — and particularly one outraged legislator — when they voted to end tax breaks for Kansans who work in the Show-Me State.

We are about to be shown just how upset Rep. Kenny Wilk, chairman of the House Taxation Committee, really is.

It all began when the Missouri Legislature decided to stop allowing Kansans working in this state to deduct the property taxes they pay on their out-of-state residences when they itemize their Missouri income taxes. In the past, Kansas has reciprocated by allowing Missourians working in that state to deduct their property taxes there. Although only a few million dollars in tax breaks may be at stake on both sides, tempers flared in Topeka.

Kansas Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon responded by saying Missourians “have created another border skirmish over here, which we don’t need.”

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, of Kansas, has asked Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt to repeal the tax increase for nonresident workers and he said that he would support a repeal in the next session.

Said Wilk: “You recognize our laws and we recognize yours. If you disagree we will tax your people.”

Wilk, according to a recent Associated Press story, is planning to fast-track tax legislation, once drafted, through the House in January. The idea is that if Missouri fails to revoke its legislation in January, Wilk will proceed with the bill.

Several St. Louis area legislators apparently aren’t moved. After all, Illinois doesn’t offer property-tax deductions for Missourians in that state.

Still, we suspect that legislators and state officials in the six states that offer similar nonresident breaks to Missourians are as upset as Kansans and will retaliate. The question in Jefferson City is whether a political battle that could disrupt any existing spirit of cooperation with all those states is worth being fought. Let us hope that cool heads prevail.

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