BOISE - Idaho lawmakers will soon consider a proposal that would affect what you pay at the cash register.
The proposed legislation would eliminate the sales tax on food, and the lawmaker who's backing it says it would have positive effects well beyond the grocery store checkout line.
"We're taxing a basic human right. We're taxing food,” said Christina Stucker-Gassi with the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils. “And when we do that, we're hurting the people in our community that are most vulnerable."
The bill would also repeal the grocery tax credit.
"It's just better tax policy, but it's one that we can afford now with so much value in the credit,” said Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Meridian.
The grocery tax credit was intended to offset the sales tax that Idahoans pay when buying food. The amount of that credit has increased over the years, but Bayer said it's time for a change.
"We can transition that policy into taking the sales tax off of food at the register in the grocery store so that people have their money upfront when they need it," said Bayer.
Sponsors of the bill say the measure would also help the economy by supporting border communities such as Weiser and Fruitland that are next to Oregon, a state with no sales tax at all.
"We actually have in some of those smaller Idaho communities boarded up stores,” said Bayer. “And we have a recent history in the last decade or two of larger format stores that the main reason that they don't locate in some of these Idaho cities is because of this tax policy.”
Bayer's proposal has been submitted to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. It has not yet had a print hearing.
If this legislation goes into effect, it would work like food stamps: any groceries that would be exempt from taxation must be the types of foods that fit those guidelines.
For example, a gallon of milk or a sack of potatoes would be tax-free, but a case of soda or hot, prepared food from the deli would still be subject to sales tax.
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