KANSAS CITY — Some Kansas City leaders are reacting angrily to a series of television commercials urging Missouri businesses to move to Kansas because of lower income taxes, especially because the ads are the work of two groups tied to retired St. Louis investment mogul Rex Sinquefield.
Kansans for No Income Tax and Save Missouri Jobs are spending a combined $200,000 during the tax filing season on cable TV ads that promote Kansas and portray Kansas City, Mo., as a high-tax place to live and do business, The Kansas City Star reported.
"It's time to start a new business, income tax-free, in Johnson County, Kansas," the announcer says, as a red arrow jumps on a map from Kansas City to the Kansas suburbs. This ad by Kansans for No Income Tax is airing only in Kansas.
A Missouri ad takes aim at Kansas City's 1 percent earnings tax on income and profits.
"If you're paying the city's earnings tax at all," the announcer says, "you're probably paying too much."
Kansas City leaders point to effortsin both states' capitols to declare a truce in the expensive battle of incentives and job relocations.
"Rex Sinquefield is attacking Kansas City again," Kansas City Councilman Russ Johnson said. "Seems to be one of his frequent hobbies."
Kansas City Mayor Sly James accused Sinquefield of trying to bankrupt the city, saying in an email to the newspaper: "I'm not as interested as Mr. Sinquefield in experimenting with our economy without facts and data to back up political talking points."
Both commercials are airing as Missouri lawmakers consider major tax cuts, and as the Kansas tax cuts dominate that state's governor's race.
The issues raised in the ads are longtime concerns for Sinquefield, a multimillionaire who told Forbes magazine in 2012 that he opposes income taxes because they "punish work." A spokeswoman for Sinquefield did not respond to a request by the newspaper for an interview.
Sinquefield has spent millions of dollars on campaigns and petition drives aimed at reducing or eliminating income taxes at the state and local levels, mainly in Missouri.
In 2011, he provided seed money for Kansans for No Income Tax, in part because tax-cut supporters in Missouri thought lowering Kansas taxes would pressure Missouri lawmakers to do the same.
David Kensinger, president of Kansans for No Income Tax, declined to comment on Sinquefield's role with the group.
The Missouri ad is sponsored by Save Missouri jobs, owned by a nonprofit company called Better Government for Missouri that's led by Woody Cozad, former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.
Cozad also would not comment on Sinquefield's participation in the Missouri commercial, but said the ads in both states might help persuade reluctant Missouri legislators to pass a tax-cut package.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's office declined to comment on the commercials.