It's time to eliminate the grocery tax

It looks like a plan to eliminate or reduce the sales tax on groceries purchased in Kansas may have a good shot at getting approved by the Kansas State Legislature during the 2022 Session.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, announced Monday, Nov. 8, that she favored the idea.

And Derek Schmidt, a Republican running for governor, and current Kansas Attorney General, said on Friday, Nov. 5 that he favored either eliminating or reducing the sales tax on groceries purchased on Kansas, too.

 “I’m pleased to introduce a plan that will ‘Axe The Food Tax’ and end the state sales tax on food,” Gov. Kelly said in her news release. “For too long, Kansans have been paying more for groceries than people in almost every other state. This legislation will save the average Kansas family $500 or more a year on their grocery bill; and thanks to the fiscally responsible decisions we made before and during the pandemic, we can cut the food sales tax and keep Kansas’ budget intact.

“This tax cut will put money back in Kansans’ pockets and create real savings for those who need it most,” Kelly added.

Kansas is one of just seven of the 50 states in the nation that fully taxes groceries. Kansas’ food sales tax rate is 6.5 percent, the second-highest rate in the country.

Under Gov. Kelly’s proposed bill, a Kansas family of four will save an average of $500 or more on their grocery bill every year, it was reported.

“Taxing a family’s grocery bill is one of the most widespread and unfair things a state can ask of its residents – a fact that’s been recognized since the tax on food was first put in place in the 1930s. And yet it’s a tax that is paid by every person in Kansas,” House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer said. “Over the years, the tax on food has been increased 10 times – from an initial 2 percent to 6.5 percent today. Throughout that time, there has been much talk about the unfairness of this tax, but until now, it’s been all talk.’’

The governor’s bill will be introduced during the 2022 Legislative session. During Monday’s announcement, Gov. Kelly called on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get a clean bill through the Legislature and onto her desk as quickly as possible.

Schmidt said the sales tax on groceries purchased in Kansas needs to be eliminated or reduced “to provide much-needed relief to Kansas families from record levels of inflation resulting from President Joe Biden’s administration policies.’’

“If Kansas is to thrive and grow, our public policies must attract, retain and support working families,” Schmidt wrote in his news release. “Our state must be an affordable place to live, work and raise a family. In light of the state’s current budget situation, carefully-constructed tax relief that benefits all Kansans by eliminating or at least significantly reducing the sales tax on groceries is possible, necessary and overdue.”

Schmidt also noted a reduction of the sales tax on groceries has been a proposal that has shared bipartisan support in Kansas, with the most significant recent consideration in 2019. That year, the Legislature approved a one-cent reduction in the sales tax on groceries, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Kelly, Schmidt said.

As the price of groceries continues to rise like other goods and services in Kansas and across the nation, due to inflation, it is becoming more obvious which states have the highest taxes on groceries.

It’s about time Kansas lawmakers - all of them - do something about it.    

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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