Title

Tax Reform: The Push for Consumption Taxes in Kansas and Missouri

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Political Science

Date of Defense

4-15-2016

Graduate Advisor

David Kimball

Committee

David Kimball

Dave Robertson

Terrance Jones

Abstract

Missouri and Kansas’ development of policies relating to consumption versus production taxes in the last couple years raises certain questions. Where did this debate come from? Why might a state switch to consumption taxes? What coalitions are pushing these taxes, who is fighting them and why? This case study seeks to examine these questions in depth by exploring relevant economic and political ideas, particularly diffusion theory; and I examine the roles of the numerous political actors in Kansas and Missouri in bringing about these policies. The legislation in Missouri is similar in essence to that passed in Kansas but comparatively it is so significantly restrained, that it would be inaccurate to describe it as a major step. My research reveals that it is still too early to say whether Missouri will move further towards greater consumption-based tax reform, and that the movement for consumption taxes’ has been married to the anti-tax movement. This marriage might prove to be harmful to the goals of the policies even though it has been politically helpful (and perhaps necessary) in getting initial legislation passed. Missouri has the time and ability to watch Kansas and see what went right and what went wrong, and if it is going to enact tax reform it needs to make use of this ability.

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