In Wichita, more sales tax hypocrisy


Another Wichita company that paid to persuade you to vote for higher taxes now seeks to avoid paying those taxes.

Next week the Wichita City Council will consider issuing industrial revenue bonds to benefit a local company. In Kansas, IRBs are not a loan of money from government. Instead, the bonds are a vehicle for conveying property tax abatements, and often sales tax exemptions. 1 The applicant company is Hijos, LLC/JR Custom Metal Products, Inc.

City documents give the value of abated taxes at $44,900 for the first year. Following years will probably be similar.

Besides property tax breaks, industrial revenue bonds can convey an exemption from paying sales taxes on purchases. City documents don’t state the amount of sales tax the company might avoid paying. But documents state the bonds will be used to fund capital equipment in the amount of $2,686,000. Sales tax on that is $201,450.

City documents also state this expansion will add 13 new jobs over the next five years at an average wage of $41,995.

Like several other companies that have received an exemption on paying sales tax on their purchases, 2 3 4 5 JR Custom Metals advocated for you to pay more sales tax. During the campaign for the one cent per dollar Wichita sales tax in 2014, this company contributed $1,000 to persuade voters to approve the tax.

JR Custom Metals contribution to Yes Wichita, the group that campaigned for the Wichita sales tax.
JR Custom Metals contribution to Yes Wichita, the group that campaigned for the Wichita sales tax.

But now it seeks to avoid paying all sales tax on these purchases. It has done this several times in the recent past.

The jobs are welcome. But this incident and many others like it reveal a capacity problem, which is this: We need to be creating nine jobs every day in order to make any significant progress in economic growth. 6 If it takes this much effort and the forgiveness of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes to create 13 jobs over five years, how much effort and subsidy will it take to create the many thousands of jobs we need to create every year?

  1. Weeks, Bob. Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas. Available at
  2. Weeks, Bob. Spirit Aerosystems tax relief. Available at
  3. Weeks, Bob. In Wichita, campaigning for a tax, then asking for exemption from paying. Available at
  4. Weeks, Bob. In Wichita, pro-sales tax campaign group uses sales tax-exempt building as headquarters. Available at
  5. Weeks, Bob. Union Station TIF provides lessons for Wichita voters. Available at
  6. Weeks, Bob. Wichita economic development and capacity. Available at


3 responses to “In Wichita, more sales tax hypocrisy”

  1. Taxes for thee but not for me.

  2. Anonymous

    good article and right to the point. We are spending way too much for such few jobs. Everyone needs to contribute to the tax base and the companies that are asking for free taxes are putting the load on everyone else.

  3. Kevin R. McWhorter

    JR Custom Metals is a classic example of a man who started a business on his own, in his garage, 42 years ago and who through hard honest work built a successful company in Wichita employing hundreds of Wichitans.

    Each time the company expands new jobs are created which did not exist before, contractors get valuable work building the improvements and those improvements end up on the tax rolls at a later date. That is called an investment.

    This is not a start up company which may, or may not make it. JR Custom Metals will no doubt be a significant contributor to the Wichita economy for a long, long time in our future.

    Economic incentives are a must for our businesses to thrive and grow and for new start-ups to locate here. We must compete aggressively in the 21st century to attract those employers and keep the ones we have because, make no mistake, other communities are after what we have.

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