Sign On Letter: Taxing Food is bad for Kansas
The following letter was provided to Governor Kelly's Council on Tax Reform during public comments at their November 14, 2019 meeting. If you agree with the letter we invite you to sign on using the simple form below. We will periodically provide update lists of signatories to decision makers in Topeka.


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We are deeply concerned about harm caused to Kansans by the high state sales tax on food. Over the last several years, we have conducted numerous surveys and research around sales tax on food in Kansas. The research has consistently shown our high sales tax rate harms the Kansas economy, businesses and families.

Of the 14 states in the nation that charge sales tax on food, seven charge the full rate, including Kansas at 6.5% . In addition to paying the state sales tax rate of 6.5% when buying food, Kansans must also pay additional city/county taxes, bringing the total to 11% in some areas.

Kansas’ state sales tax on food puts an unfair burden on low income families, hurts rural grocers and their employees, and drives shoppers across state lines to buy food. KC Healthy Kids has commissioned the Kansas Public Finance Center at Wichita State University to publish a series of reports examining these three ways sales tax on food impacts Kansans. Here are some highlights from the studies (which can be viewed in full at our website, www.kchealthykids.org):

Unfair burden
Food is not a luxury item. Our states high sales tax rate on food puts an unfair burden on the poor and those in rural areas. A household in the lowest income group pays anywhere from 2.7% to 8.4% more of their income in taxes on groceries than does a household in the highest income level.

Impact on Rural Grocery Stores
Sales tax on food costs the average rural Kansas grocer close to $18,000 per year by reducing grocery sales and forces customers to purchase lower-quality, less expensive items. Since rural counties typically aren’t able to offer a variety of retail establishments, their consumers are more likely to leave the area to buy their goods in counties or states with more retail options and lower taxes/prices.

Border Impact
The study found the current sales tax drives shoppers across state and county lines to save money on food. The result is slowed sales growth in counties on the state line, and cannibalization of income among Kansas counties.

Of the state’s 105 counties, 40 share at least one border with neighboring states. Colorado and Nebraska exempt all food sales from taxation, and Missouri’s state food sales taxes are only 1.225%. Oklahoma, like Kansas, does not exempt food sales taxes, but has a lower state sales tax of 4.5%

Lowering the sales tax on food would benefit the Kansas economy while putting dollars back into the pockets of Kansans who need it most.
Your leadership is needed to make that happen.

We urge the council to highlight the negative impacts of the state sales tax on food in your interim report [expected in December 2019], and to recommend in your final report [expected in December 2020] that the state reduce its food sales tax a level competitive with its neighbor states.

Furthermore, we recognize this issue is urgent, and we call on Kansas elected officials to reduce the food sales tax to a level competitive with neighboring states.

Sincerely,

<the undersigned>
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