The Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation committee had a hearing Wednesday to hear all sides before ruling on the legislature’s proposed tax increases on cigarettes, liquor and fuel that would cover an estimated $400 million budget shortfall, the Kansas Reporter reported.
Tom Palace, executive director of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, was one of a dozen opponents who spoke before the committee Wednesday. He told the Kansas Reporter he feels the legislature’s proposed options for additional revenue target the convenience store industry at every turn.
“These taxes are all targeted and they all impact convenience stores,” Palace said.
Palace spoke Wednesday specifically against Senate Bill 516, which includes Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson’s proposal to increase the sales taxes on cigarettes from .79 cents per pack up to $1.34 per pack. Cigars and other tobacco products taxes would be increased at the wholesale level by 30-40%.
Those against the taxes argued that the increases would severely hurt local mom-and-pop owned cigar shops, putting many of the 11 in Kansas out of business completely, as customers take their business into Missouri where taxes are lower. Already customers fill up their gas tanks for 0.7 cents cheaper in Missouri, and the cigarette tax in Missouri is at 0.17 cents per pack.
“The cross border sales are a real thing,” Palace said.
Proponents of the bill meanwhile said the decrease in smoking and health problems related to it would far outweigh a loss of business.