Old Newspapers: Kansas City E-Tax

It may surprise you but I am not a huge supporter of the Kansas City E-Tax which is just a modern version of highway robbery. But this post is not about my feelings about the tax, which is already well-covered on this blog. I was always interested in how it was originally sold to the prehistoric Kansascitians back in 1963, when it was only .5%. So I made a trip to the library and spend some time looking at women spinning microfilm. I bet not too many of you have seen any of these.

*note: I am not a fan of PDF files, and this is probably a rare time you’ll see them embedded on my blog, but I think they would actually make some of these newspaper clippings more readable; they are fully scrollable and magnifiable. Others were converted to image format, they are clickable and linked to better readable versions. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

This open letter to the property owners was printed in the Star/Times the day before the elections – December 16, 1963.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/open-letter1.pdf”]


Preparing for the vote:

The Star reprinted this article from the Daily Oklahoman:

Promotional sample ballot:

5 important issues to consider:

E-Tax decision today:

Mayor Davis is voting for the tax on December 17, 1963.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/HJMY1.pdf”]

December 18th issue: The tax passed.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/dec181.pdf”]

January 24, 1964: Some questions clarified:

And now from the “some things never change” files:

Few ads that caught my eye.

Beginnings of the real estate bubble:

Famous Pam Panties

Huffy Deluxe:

Did you know when the “Muse of Missouri” installed? Now you do:

Lastly, browsing through the old issues of the Kansas City Star/Times was somewhat of an eye-opening experience for me. I didn’t realize just how much this country was terrified of the “reds”. The USSR, Khrushchev, Red China dominated the front pages and accounted for the large part of coverage elsewhere. And for those who lament the declining journalistic standards, there were plenty of ridiculous items in the paper 50 years ago and, in hindsight, many of the serious articles were uninformed, unnecessarily alarmist, and no better than the propaganda printed in the Soviet press. No wonder the Cold War lasted this long.

Few more newspaper clippings on the subject.

  • So the e-tax started at .5%. What is it now? By the way, thanks for the memories. I graduated in 1962, so this takes me back.

    • It’s up to 1%, they raised it sometime in the 70’s

  • Paying taxes is highway robbery? I’m not sure that 1% tax is in exactly the same bracket as being carjacked. Because the tax is deductible on both state and federal, it’s closer to .6% for many people.

    I do think the Rex Sinquefield folks are being very dishonest in claiming that repealing the tax will bring at least 2,500 jobs to the city. Laying off police, laying off firefighters, cutting cultural amnetities, and (probably) increasing fees at the airport to make up the difference will not make the city (much less the metropolitan area) more attractive to new employers. Doubly so when some competing states already have zero income taxes.

    • Paying taxes in to your own city,county and state is fine. Highway robbery
      is when you tax the people who just happen to pass or work in your city,
      but don’t live there. I don’t claim that repealing tax will make your city
      better, or bring jobs, but it will make you pay what it actually costs to
      live there,like the rest of us. Also notice that they take 1% of the gross
      income, not of the AGI like federal and state.

      • So my employer moved offices to Kansas, and I now pay income taxes in Kansas (at a higher rate than Missouri income taxes). Approximately half of the Kansas budget goes to services (such as public education) which I cannot legally access due to residency requirements.

        More frustratingly, prior to the move I didn’t need a car to get to work. Now that the offices are out in the suburbs, transportation costs are substantially more. I can’t even go to lunch without getting in my car and driving 10 minutes. But that’s a separate complaint.

        In the E-tax example, I can’t help but notice many suburban folks legally accessing services the tax provides. I have also witnessed them illegally accessing these services, as well. Dumping garbage in the city is a problem; since it seems concentrated near highway overpasses, I’m inclined to believe it’s not citizens (since they would have their garbage removed curbside, right?).

        Good catch on the AGI, depending on who you are that changes the calculations.

        • You get credit on your MO tax form for “taxes paid to other states”, just
          like I get the credit on my KS income tax, but my taxes still go to MO, so
          we are probably even. I never bothered to check how much KS tax rate differs
          from MO, but I am sure the difference is not huge. That’s why I never
          complain about having to pay MO taxes, people working across the state lines
          are not uncommon and in the end it’s probably a wash.
          Sorry about your commute, I’ve been doing it for a long time, but by KC
          standards my 20.5 miles is not all that bad.
          As far as accessing the city sevices, I pay for everything I use, either by
          purchasing it or through my company’s property and sales taxes which are
          then passed on to the customers. And I am too lazy to haul my garbage to
          KCMO when I have a trashcan on my driveway.

          • There’s also the matter of ongoing service expenses (police, fire, road repair) vs. bond-backed capital expenditure (bridges, airports, etc). The large bond-funded projects are usually backed from the general fund. For example, an airplane ticket might cover some (not all) operational costs of the airport – but the loan for the construction costs are paid from city coffers. Just last week, the city’s bond credit rating was downgraded – the reason cited was the possibility the e-tax might go away, causing the city to default on bonds.

            Incidentally, there never would have been an e-tax in St. Louis and Kansas City – except that the state decided to stop doing revenue sharing with the cities. And when you think about it, revenue sharing is probably a better system. Oops!

        • Vcorn

          Every major corporation/business in Kansas City is in support of the e-tax. http://bit.ly/ghjVHR.

          If we rid ourselves of the e-tax and we have to lessen our vital services such as police force, firefighters, EMT, street maintenance(which is already bad to begin with and would only worsen), companies won’t be attracted to having their business in KCMO.

  • Anonymous

    Between this tax and the abated apartments near your work I see you heading for an infarction of major proportions. Please know that we Kc’ers appreciate your wit, your talent, the slight trace of an accent, but mostly your documentation of our potholes. You are truly noble. Or is that Nobel.

    • When I am getting a write-up in the Pitch, I will be on the cover, not my coworker’s girlfriend.

      • Anonymous

        NOW were talking keepsake!!!

  • Burrowowl

    I love the phrase “opportunity to pay a fair share” in the open letter. They make it sound like they’re just putting up a donation box at the city limit.

    As I’ve said before, if you really have a problem with the earnings tax and don’t want to live in Kansas City, you should really take the matter up with your employer. They’ve placed what you consider to be an undue tax burden on you by choosing to operate in Kansas City.