One Kansas resident wonders about the Kansas City earnings tax, and where local governments get the authority to tax the earnings of out-of-state workers who do not have a say in their tax burden:
Today, the sneaky practice of taxation without representation is back, and practiced regularly in America. Two cities engaged in this practice are St. Louis and Kansas City Missouri. The city taxes levied on earnings for all people who work in these towns amounts to a one percent earnings tax on the gross income of workers.
A number of years ago, while working in a bank in Kansas City, I asked my employer why my wages were being taxed by Kansas City, since I did not live in Kansas City. Since I was not a resident of the city, it was my view that I did not have any sort of governmental representation in whether or not I should be taxed, and what the level of taxation should be. The question set off some alarms with my employer, and they began to protest that the money taken was a fair tax which provided a host of city services. When I did not buy that argument, and told them I still did not see how I had any sort of representation in determining how fair the tax was or how much I thought was fair, they scrambled to find an answer.
In response to my question, the bank representative told me that my governmental representation authority for the right to levy earnings tax was at the state level. They told me that since I was a resident of Missouri, it was the state legislature which had the governmental authority to allow cities within the state to levy earnings taxes on workers within their jurisdictions. At the time, I let the issue ride. Subsequently, I have had occasion as a resident of Kansas to work in Kansas City, Missouri, and my earnings continued to be taxed the one percent earnings tax by the city of Kansas City. Again the question arises regarding how a city in another state can get away with taxing the earnings of Kansas residents without appropriate governmental representation to determine if I should be taxed, and how much tax is due.
I am sure the response to this would be that the federal government allows state and local governments the right to create taxes for non-citizens, and my representation is on the federal level. Since the slippery practice of being forced to pay taxes to governments where I have no representation in how much or whether I should be taxed is sanctioned by the Federal level of government, cities, counties and states are allowed to dip their fingers into my earnings whether I have a voice or not.
Since taxation has reached a convoluted layer of being taken from earnings, purchases, property, services, and who knows what else, it is time to start asking my Federal representatives to allow me direct representation in all the taxes being drained from my income, or to pass legislation that disallows the practice of taxation without representation as it exists in American society today.
Earnings taxes are just one example of how citizens have been conditioned to paying taxes they have no control or representation in qualifying to pay. How much more money would the average citizen have in their pocket if this country truly held to the original concept of no taxation without representation? My guess is that there would be a lot of state, county, and city officials squirming in their seats if our Federal government forced them to rethink their processes of how people are taxed, and who has a say in determining how much tax is allowed.
To those who suggest that KC voters are the only ones who should be concerning themselves with their earnings tax, I say not so much. Many people are affected by the earnings tax without the opportunity to vote on it, including KC residents who haven’t voted on the earnings tax for decades. Many people would like to see this question revisited.