How Soon Could the Kansas Food Sales Tax Be Eliminated? The timing of the plans varies.
TOPEKA, (KSNT)—Multiple plans to eliminate or reduce the state food sales tax are pending in the legislature.
None reached the ground to debate, despite lawmakers touting efforts on both sides of the aisle to push through a plan this year.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly emphasized her “Axe the Food Tax” plan during a visit to Harvesters, a local food pantry in Topeka, on Thursday. The governor hopes to completely eliminate the state’s 6.5% food sales tax by this summer and, once again, has urged lawmakers to send him a “clean” bill.
“I want the Ax the Food tax done and I want it sent clean to my office,” Kelly said. “We know we can afford it now and we can sustain that reduction, about $475 million over time.”
The governor’s plan is expected to save an average family of four $500 a year on groceries. With state revenues rising, lawmakers have said they hope to pass something this year, but some of the plans vary on the timeline for doing so.
A Senate committee voted unanimously in favor of a proposal that would eliminate the food tax, but pushed back the plan’s effective date to January of next year. Senator Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican who chairs the Senate Tax Committee, spoke about the APEX bill that passed, prompting lawmakers to consider a date change.
The economic development bill included a major package for a secret society, which would bring a $4 billion business to Kansas that could generate thousands of jobs. A number of tax incentives will be given to the company based on its performance.
“It’s the economic development bill that was $1.6 billion for a company and because of that we had to extend the food sales tax date so they don’t send the ‘State in freefall,’ Tyson said.
This week, the House Tax Committee accepted a proposal from the GOP leader to cut the tax to 3.5% by July, then allow further cuts over the course of a few years, if the state maintains a healthy budget. .
In an interview with the Kansas Capitol Bureau in January, Rep. Adam Smith, R-Weskan, who chairs the House Taxation Committee, said that while cutting the state’s food sales tax is an issue that benefits bipartisan support, the main factor will be cost.
“It’s not a new idea, and cost was the biggest banning factor, and it continues to be,” Rep. Smith said. “We want to look at years and longevity, and make sure we’re not going too far too fast in eliminating sales tax on food altogether.”
While the governor’s plan comes with a costly budget memo expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, some Democrats have argued that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Sen. Ethan Corson, a Democrat from Fairway, sits on the Senate committee that voted to pass a plan pushing for the complete elimination of the tax through 2024. He said while he was excited to see a plan that would completely eliminate the tax, he hopes there will be room for negotiation once the bill has been tabled.
“Part of the conversation if this bill were to come forward will be about the right implementation date,” Corson said. “I would favor an implementation date of June this year.”