Tax experts say high food sales tax is hurting poor Kansans during pandemic

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas is one of a few states that charges full sales tax on groceries. Some people said higher prices on certain food items combined with the tax is hurting the poor.

Members of Governor Laura Kelly’s Council on Tax Reform recommend reinstating a rebate for people that are making the least amount of money.

“People who have low incomes, and those are the people who have been affected by COVID the most, are actually paying a higher share of what little income they have just to eat,” said Donna Ginther, a University of Kansas economics professor and council member.

“So one of the things we discussed in the meeting was to have some sort of targeted relief to low income households to make up for the taxes that they pay for food.”

Kansas’ high food sales tax, at 6.5% plus local taxes, has helped the state beat revenue projections.

“The fact that we tax food has really propped up our budget, right. People have been going to the grocery store, that hasn’t changed, they’ve stopped going to restaurants, and so that’s helped us, but we know that low-income households are disproportionally affected by the food sales tax,” Ginther said.

The average sales tax in Kansas is 8.68%t, which is eighth highest in the nation.

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