To encourage growth and development in areas of the state where the population has been decreasing, the Kansas Legislature recently passed 2011 Sen. Bill 198 establishing the following counties as “rural opportunity zones” (“ROZs”):
Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mitchell, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Trego, Thomas, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, Wilson or Woodson
The bill provides two possible incentives to individuals moving to a ROZ. For the years 2012 to 2016, individuals can receive a full credit for his or her Kansas state income tax if they meet certain conditions, including:
- Establish domicile within one of the rural opportunity zones on or after July 1, 2011, and have been domiciled outside of Kansas for at least five years before doing so, and
- Be domiciled for the entire taxable year in a ROZ
S.B. 198 also allows counties designated as ROZs to establish a student loan repayment program in conjunction with the state. County commissions may adopt a resolution obligating them (and the state, in equal shares) to pay 20% of a student’s loan each year for five years, up to a total maximum amount of $15,000. Thus, each year, an ROZ county and the state can contribute up to $1,500 each toward repayment of a student’s loan. To qualify, individuals must be domiciled in the participating ROZ county.