Hartman state tax issue still a little bit murky

At Wednesday’s forum of candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, the issue of candidate Wink Hartman and his residency arose. The discussion, however, didn’t lead to much new information about the issue.

In her question to Hartman, moderator Anita Cochran referred to a recent Wichita Eagle article about Hartman’s residency. Comments left to that article referred to the fact that Florida has no state income tax. Cochran asked: “Did he [Hartman] file as a Florida resident for federal taxes?”

Hartman replied: “The fact is, Florida does not have personal income tax. So obviously the article’s wrong on the first base. The second base: I have filed federal income taxes in the state of Kansas every single year.”

Cochran followed up: “So was the tax savings a factor in your decision to establish residency in Florida, or not?”

Hartman replied: “You’re using a word that’s kind of a misnomer: residency. I’m a resident of Rose Hill, Kansas.”

The problem with Cochran’s initial question is that the important issue is state income taxes, but she asked in which state he filed his federal taxes.

While Hartman’s answer contained a confusing claim about the Eagle article being wrong, he answered Cochran’s question about filing federal income taxes. I don’t think it matters much in which state he filed his federal taxes, as federal tax rates are the same across the country. But Kansas has a personal income tax, which is a not insignificant 6.45 percent in the top bracket.

In response to a query by email, Scott Paradise, manager for the Hartman campaign, wrote “Wink has paid all of his state income taxes in Kansas. We couldn’t be more clear on this issue.”

I hate to get too picky, but that answer is different from saying that Hartman filed Kansas state income tax returns. These answers are not going to satisfy his critics on this issue.

In the end, the issue of taxes may not be the most important issue. First, income earned in Kansas must be declared on a Kansas state income tax return. The Kansas tax instructions define “Kansas source income” as, in part, “Income from a business, trade, profession or occupation operating in Kansas, including partnerships & S Corporations.” Even if filing as a resident of another state, the Kansas income tax must be paid.

So Hartman’s businesses — at least the ones operating in Kansas — would pay Kansas taxes in their income.

Second, most people engage in strategies to minimize their income tax bill. They hire tax preparers or use software to find all available deductions and credits, whether they be straightforward in the law, or loopholes. In fact, state and federal government use tax deductions and credits to distribute largesse and influence the behavior of people, so government expects people to make use of them.

Those with high income or wealth usually hire experts to plan in advance how to structure their business or personal affairs in a way that maximizes their income or wealth after taxes are paid.

So if a homestead tax exemption is available, most people, I think, would claim it.

The issue of Hartman voting in Florida is more important to me. He and his wife could have voted in Kansas very easily, and it wouldn’t have cost more than the effort to request an advance ballot by mail and a few postage stamps.

3 Comments

  • kimpot54 -

    Stick a fork in Wink–he’s done. He’s splitting hairs, but he surely paid state income taxes through his Kansas businesses and no personal state income tax, because he filed (personally) in FL. The ONLY reason for him to establish his personal residence in FL was to skip out on the KS state income tax. (Personally, I couldn’t care less if he paid state income taxes in KS or not; however, claiming FL residency was a bad idea since he ended up running for congress in KS.) The good thing about this is now there is one less truly viable candidate on the conservative Republican side, making it less likely that Jean Schodorf can pull enough votes to win.

  • Anonymous -

    Wink has every right to live and vote where he wants. Politically it is an tad off base to have been a resident of another state and voted there and had a home there and saved tens of thousands of dollars there and then one or two years later run in Kansas. It is a valid issue to bring up and he should be honest about it, which he has not so far.
    The Pompeo deal and fundraiser in DC is a bogus ,silly ,typically Eagle attack. They will go after all the GOP people and I would be willing to bet ten thousand to one they endorse the former ACLU attorney as soon as they can.
    You know the guy who never had a problem with Fred Phelps till he moved back to Kansas,then he got upset.
    You know the guy who has never had a full time job in Kansas ,never spent five minutes as a student in a public school and gets half his money or more from out of state. That is the real issue here.

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