Kansas lawmakers hear testimony on lowering sales tax on groceries

Current tax is 6.5%
Kansas lawmakers hear testimony on lowering sales tax on groceries
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Kansas lawmakers have begun hearing testimony on the possibility of lowering the state sales tax on groceries.

During a hearing Monday before the House Taxation committee, food growers, small-town grocers and advocates for low-income families supported reducing the 6.5 percent state sales tax rate on groceries by 1 percent.

The reduction would lower state revenues by $60 million.

State lawmakers raised the rate to 6.5 percent in 2015 when the state was facing continuing revenue shortfalls. Kansas residents pay one of the highest tax rates on groceries of any jurisdiction in the country when state and local taxes are combined.

Rep. Tim Hodge, a North Newton Democrat who campaigned on lowering food sales taxes, criticized past lawmakers for raising the sales tax rather than repealing tax cuts during a budget crisis.

John Donley of the Kansas Farm Bureau warned that reducing the sales tax on groceries could eventually lead to replacing the sales tax with a value-added tax system, which would apply to production of goods.

Adrienne Olejnik of Kansas Action for Children said the state should reconsider a food sales tax rebate program that was eliminated in 2013, rather than lowering the sales tax on groceries. The program’s refunds were available for households with less than $30,615 in annual income.