“Axe the Food Tax” effort in Kansas voted down

Kansas has the second highest sales tax on food in the nation.

Kansas’ food sales tax rate is 6.5%, the second-highest rate in the country. It is also one of seven states that fully tax groceries.

Recently, state officials kicked off a push for their latest bill to cut those taxes. Under the “Axe the Food Tax” Plan, state food sales tax would be zero, which could mean more savings for Kansas families.

Today, KOAM Reporter Bronte Sorotsky is speaking with Thrive Allen County and the owner of The Marmaton Market. The discussion: how a food tax cut could impact local residents.

You can catch the story tonight on KOAM News at 5:00 and 6:00 pm.

IOLA, Kan.–Kansas has the second-highest food sales tax rate in the country at 6.5%. Kansas officials are trying to cut some of those taxes, known as the “Axe the food tax” plan.

“And when we look across it different policies in our community, we see that the sales tax is something that negatively impacts our residents and it also impacts our local grocery stores, ” said Thrive Allen County President and CEO Lisse Regehr.

Thrive Allen County is a non-profit, focused on the health and wellness, of the community. The organization works with families in need of financial assistance, the money that would be saved from the loss of the sales tax could be huge.

“In Southeast Kansas, we are a more depressed area. our wages are lower…it can mean more nutritious food that can be purchased at our grocery stores. it means possibly being able to better pay rent and utilities,” Regehr said. 

On Tuesday, the legislation was voted down, those in opposition say they worry about state spending.

“I know there are people who will look at this and say, if you’re cutting the sales tax, that means that there is a lack of funding going into the state. but currently, the state has a surplus,” Regehr said. 

The state projects Kansas could collect a surplus for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Marilyn Logan is the general manager of Marmaton Market in Moran. Kansas, and says the current sales tax in the state impacts not only the store but customers as well. 

“Our sales tax is exorbitant on food, and there’s no reason for it to be that high. The majority of the people in my shop at my store are middle or lower-income. So they don’t have a lot of disposable dollars to spend on food,” Logan said.

And rising costs don’t help.

“We had to explore alternatives because the main supplier that we were used to using did not have the product. and we’re still two and a half years later in that very same situation, I placed an order with my main supplier. I get maybe half of what I order. Prices go up every week,” said Logan.

State Democratic leaders say they hope to continue to try and drop the state’s grocery sales tax.

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Kansas is one of a few states in the nation that fully taxes groceries.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

  • Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Tennesse, Utah and Virginia tax groceries at lower rates than other goods.
  • Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas and Oklahoma tax groceries at the regular sales tax rate.
  • Alabama, Mississippi and South Dakota apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption.