Kansas lawmaker opposes ‘encouraging the behavior of purchasing food’ with lower food taxes
A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas says that he opposes cutting the taxes on groceries because it would be a form of “social engineering” that encourages people to buy food over other items.
The Kansas state Senate on Thursday voted to cut the state sales tax on food from 6.3 percent to 4.95 percent, but Sen. Jeff Melcher (R) led opposition against the measure, arguing that it would lead to people eating more.
“It seems to me we are encouraging the behavior of purchasing food and discouraging the behavior of purchasing anything else,” Melcher reportedly told his colleagues.
The lawmaker pointed out that the state already had programs to help get food to poor people, and that creating two different tax rates would be additional “complexity” for retailers.
“It seems to me it provides a complexity in the tax code that the retailers will have to deal with,” he explained, according to The Wichita Eagle.
The Senate plan sets up a showdown with the Kansas House, which has proposed that state sales taxes be set at a rate of 6 percent. By law, sales taxes were scheduled to drop to 5.7 percent in July, but Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has called to keep the current rate of 6.3 percent to make up for last year’s income tax cuts. Brownback is also asking the Legislature for additional income tax cuts this year.
Under the Senate plan, the top tax rate would be cut from 4.9 percent to 3.5 percent. The bottom rate would also be cut from 3 percent to 2.5 percent.
[Photo: Melcher for Senate]