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Eliminating Kansas food sales tax gets bipartisan support

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Kimberly James | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Eliminating Kansas' food sales tax has gained bipartisan support to combat inflation and rising costs at the grocery store.

Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly recently rolled out her administration's plan to "axe the food tax," which is 6.5% – a move estimated to save $500 a year for the average Kansas family.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican who's running for governor, has also called for the legislature to eliminate or significantly reduce food taxes during the 2022 session.

"Everywhere I go, I hear from Kansans who are having trouble making ends meet because the Biden administration's policies have triggered inflation," Schmidt said earlier this month, according to the Leavenworth Times. "Everybody buys groceries, but they tend to be a bigger portion of a family's budget when the budget is smaller. So this is something that we can do right now in Kansas in order to help working Kansas families deal with the Biden administration's inflationary policies."

As the nation faces economic inflation, grocery prices have risen. Customers are also struggling to get what they need because of supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index shows a 5.4% increase in the cost of goods since September 2020. The meats, poultry, fish, and eggs index increased 10.5%, and beef alone rose 17.6%.

"Washington’s reckless government spending is causing unprecedented inflation," Dave Trabert, CEO of Kansas Policy Institute, told The Center Square. "That, and the high food sales tax in Kansas, makes it hard for some people to put food on the table."

While cutting taxes would be good for consumers, Trabert said lawmakers also need to reduce spending.

"Kansas has the second-highest tax on food because Gov. Kelly and many legislators are addicted to spending the money it produces," Trabert said. "The food sales tax should go away, but spending must also be reduced, so the tax burden isn’t shifted elsewhere." 

"Gov. Kelly rightfully criticized Gov. Sam Brownback for cutting taxes but not reducing spending. Now she needs to practice what she preaches," he said.