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Kansas votes to lower boat taxes

Kansas voters approved a change in the state constitution aimed at lowering property taxes on boats.

The measure was supported by about 54 percent of voters in Tuesday's election, according to the Associated Press. The new law allows the legislature to set up a new system for taxing watercraft.

Kansas boat owners now pay property taxes on 30 percent of their boats' appraised value, tied largely to levies that are set by cities, counties and school districts. Critics of the current system say the Kansas taxes are significantly higher than those in other states.

The measure was backed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The agency hoped it would encourage more residents to purchase and register boats in the state, offsetting any potential loss in tax revenue.

Kansas boat owners are registering their boats in Oklahoma and Missouri, proponents told the Wichita Eagle, to avoid paying property taxes that can be eight times the rates charged in adjoining states.

A $20,000 boat in Oklahoma would carry a $150 property tax bill; in Kansas, the same boat would carry a $750 tax bill under the former law.

A similar proposed amendment failed by less than 1 percent of the electorate in 2000.

The drive is based on statistics: Boat registrations are down about 20 percent in Kansas during the past decade, to about 83,000 annually. Those missing 20,000 boats translate to as much as $1?million in lost annual tax revenue, Dan Hesket, the boating law administrator for the wildlife department, told the paper.

Rep. Jeff King, R-Kansas, said the proposed amendment standardizes boat taxation with other recreational vehicles. A similar amendment for RVs passed in 1992 and eventually resulted in substantial tax cuts for those vehicles, which are now valued according to vehicle weight and age.

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