Kansas City Earning Tax Measure (April 2011)

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A Kansas City Earning Tax Measure was on the April 5, 2011 ballot in the city of Kansas City, which is in Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte Counties.

This measure was approved

  • YES 56,965 (78%)Approveda
  • NO 16,494 (22%)[1]

This measure was brought forth by a state wide election in November 2010, Missouri earning tax initiative which was approved by state voters. This measure asked city voters if they wanted to continue the 1 percent local earning tax. This question will be asked every five years of residents unless they reject it and then it would not be able to be renewed again.[2] A vote in favor of this meant a vote in favor of keeping the earning tax in place. This was opposite of what a 'Yes' meant in November so some were noting that voters may be confused if they believe it was the same measure as in November.[3] The money from this measure goes towards paying for police and fire services as well as trash collection, subsidies to sports teams in the area and tax breaks for developers.[4]



On July 25, 2011, Kansas City Fire Chief Richard Dyer and civic leader Anita Gorman, who helped lead the effort to establish the earnings tax in 1963, filed a lawsuit Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argues that the "Kansas City charter authorizes the local earning tax and does not require the periodic renewal vote."[5]

A lawsuit was dismissed by Cole County Judge Jon Beetem in mid-August 2011. The lawsuit was filed by the Kansas City attorney’s office on behalf of labor leader Pat Dujakovich and City Manager Troy Schulte. Specifically, the lawsuit notes that the election requirement violates the city charter and state constitution, partially because it requires an election costing about $500,000 every five years. According to Beetem the measure does not violate the state constitution because "the Kansas City Council could on its own abolish the earnings tax and isn’t forced to conduct a costly election."[6]

The dismissal, however, does not affect the lawsuit filed in July 2011.


The group in favor of this measure, Save Kansas City, had raised near $1 million for their campaign, most of the money from for-profit businesses in the city. This group had hosted a news conference against those opposed to the measure and where their funding was coming from.[7] Those in favor of this note that without the earning tax police jobs would be lost as well as other city services which are essential to the safety and development of the city.[8]


The group, Freedom PAC was the only organized group formed in opposition of continuing the earning tax. The group had received $375,000 from two non profits though people in favor of the measure noted that those behind the non profits are not being disclosed. Members of the group stated that they were within the law not to disclose who funds the non profits and questions about suspicious activities were unfounded. They noted that the donors were kept secret because they fear a back lash from the city.[7] Those against this measure noted that there were better ways to tax residents and pay for city services. This tax hurts businesses and was a regressive tax for residents.[8]

See also

ApprovedaMissouri Earnings Tax Initiative, Proposition A (2010)
Approveda St. Louis City Earning Tax Measure (April 2011)

Additional reading