Changes to state food sales tax could impact food banks

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – One of Governor Laura Kelly’s biggest campaign promises was to lower the state’s food sales tax rate. But that didn’t happen in during her first legislative session as governor.

A change in the state’s food sales tax rate could affect food banks across the state as well as the Salvation Army in Topeka.

“We have so many single-parent head of households that I think it could make a big difference for them,” said Shelley Robertson, development director at the Topeka Salvation Army.

Robertson believes if the state changes its current 6.5 percent rate, it could have an impact on the number of people they serve.

“If they increase it, we’re going to see an uptick in the amount of working families coming here for community meal program,” Robertson said. “If it decreased of course, it’s going to give them more money in their pocket to buy food for home.”

Earlier this year the legislature twice passed bills that would incrementally lower the state’s food sales tax, but they were tied to other business and internet sales tax plans. Both were vetoed by Governor Kelly.

She said she wants to address taxes when she can better see the extent of recent federal and state tax changes.

“We would look at a comprehensive approach to reforming our taxes, which is dire need of restructuring, that will include the food sales tax issue,” Kelly said. “So I don’t feel like I have not kept a promise because I always promised we would address the issue once the dust settled.”

The vetoed bills were estimated to only lower the sales tax by about one percent per year, which is something Kelly wants to focus on.

“You’d have to make a very significant cut in food sales tax to make it felt in anybody’s home,” Kelly said.

Robertson said she hopes politicians can come together to make sure the rate goes down.

Governor Kelly recently announced her council on tax reform that is set to meet later this month to discuss the food tax issue and send recommendations to lawmakers.

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