Downtown Larned, Kansas

(The Center Square) – Kansas small business owners are awaiting the decision on a bill that would allow reimbursement for property taxes paid out during nonoperational months of the pandemic.

"Property taxes, unlike income taxes, generally remain the same even when revenues and income decrease," Dan Murray, Kansas state director of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told The Center Square. "So, with revenues down for many small businesses, particularly those in small retail and restaurants, property tax payments are presenting challenges. To my knowledge, taxing municipalities have not adopted widespread property tax payment delays or forgiveness programs."

If passed, reimbursements would be for the entire time a business's doors were closed, and proportionally for the time opened but operating with restrictions and capacity limitations. County governments would endure the majority of this burden and have to adjust budgets that have already been approved.

"The bill would provide some needed property tax relief for those businesses most directly impacted by the government-mandated shutdowns and mass gathering restrictions," Murray said. "However, it would present some problematic issues for taxing subdivisions, not just counties, which have property tax authority. I think the legislation is not without merit, but might need additional consideration as to its potential to lead to a shift in the property tax burden."

Some fear that to make up the revenue, residential property taxes would increase. Several county commissions have opposed the bill.

"A comprehensive bill addressing the lessons learned from the hardships imposed on small business during the pandemic must move forward," Murray said. "We believe that all businesses are essential and that there is a right way and wrong way to manage commerce during a future pandemic. One consideration is to include provisions that provide appropriate remuneration to small businesses if the government forces them to shut their doors. We look forward to the Legislature and governor including provisions that account for these concerns in Legislation this session."