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A recent Kansas City Star editorial, “KC’s taxes especially burdensome for the poor” argues for reforming that city’s tax structure. The article cites Tax Rates and Tax Burdens in the District of Columbia – A Nationwide Comparison put out by the D.C. government. This annual study takes a close look at the major taxes levied by large cities and, by creating hypothetical profiles of different kinds of households, it ranks their impact on individual family types with variations for income, filing status, available deductions, etc.

Kansas City, Missouri doesn’t fare very well in the report. In fact, the city’s tax structure asks low-income residents to pay more than their fair share. Kansas City does have a recently reinvigorated Citizens Commission on Municipal Revenue tasked with improving the city’s “financial problems and [to] ensure continuing city growth.” The findings of the D.C. report should play a large role in informing the Commission and improving the city’s tax structure.

The Kansas City Star should be commended for opining that, “the commission needs to focus on the already high tax burden on Kansas Citians — particularly on low-income residents.”

While Citizens for Tax Justice works largely on federal tax issues, and its partner, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy,  focuses on state tax systems, D.C.’s annual report on tax rates and burdens reminds us that there is important work to be done improving the tax structures of cities’ too. 

For detailed profiles of state tax systems – which  are notoriously regressive and take more money, as a percentage of income, from the least well off families compared to the wealthiest – you can look at ITEP’s Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States.

Photo via Jimmy Wayne Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0