HB 2417 Goes Before Kansas Senate Committee

TOPEKA, KAN – Substitute for House Bill 2417 went before the Kansas Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Representatives Ponka-we Victors (District 103) and Dennis “Boog” Highberger (District 46) provided testimony for the bill along with Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribal Council Member Thomas Wabnum, and PBPN Lawyer Vivien Olsen.

PBPN Tribal Council Member Thomas Wabnum delivers testimony in his official capacity, Wabnum is also as a Vietnam Veteran.

During the process of the bill’s passage through the Kansas House of Representatives on February 19, 2018, language regarding interest on these tax withholdings was removed. During testimony, Rep. Highberger urged the Senate to re-instate the interest.

The current estimate of impacted Native American veterans of the wrongful taxation is less than 200. After some discussion it was determined the current fiscal note without interest is set for approximately 126K. Should the State determine to include the interest owed, the amount set aside for possible repayment would double and require approximately 253K to be set aside for claims.

The purpose of HB 2417 is to allow any Native American veteran of a Kansas tribe to recoup withheld state income taxes during the period of active military duty from the tax years 1977 through 2001, if said individual was domiciled within the boundaries of their tribal lands. If the legislation is signed into law, impacted veterans will have one and a half years to take advantage of the refund, after which the matter will be closed.

House Bill 2417 was initially introduced by Victors and Highberger to the House Committee on Veterans and Military. During the process of reviewing the bill, language changed from the initial document and therefore the bill is now referred to as Substitute for HB 2417, while the original intent of the bill remains the same.

If Sub HB 2417 becomes law, Kansas will be the third state in the United States to implement legislation to address this issue. Arizona and New Mexico were the first two states to do so.

Representative Dennis “Boog” Highberger, PBPN Lawyer Vivien Olsen, PBPN Tribal Council Member Thomas “Hoppy” Wabnum and Representative Ponka-we Victors after the Senate Committee hearing.