Posts Tagged sales tax on food

Another proposal to raise the tax on food

Representative Craig Frank has a blog post with a big headline:

Repeal of 1% Restaurant Tax Receives Unanimous Approval

Repealing a tax should be popular right about now. Especially since Senator Howard Stephenson and others are proposing to raise the sales tax on food.

Unfortunately, repealing this tax isn’t as pretty as it sounds. The proposal is, in fact, to shift a one percent restaurant tax to a one-tenth of one percent general sales tax.

CraigfrankRep Frank says:

Although the Bill proposal removes the 1% sales tax on restaurant food, the Bill also gives Counties throughout the state an option of levying a 1/10 % (one-tenth of one percent) general sales tax in its place. Many counties have used the current restaurant tax’s revenue stream to bond for projects such as convention centers and other “cultural” venues.

Rep. Frank has stated that “it’s not (his) intent to put at risk those Counties who have already leveraged themselves against the previously ‘guaranteed’ revenue stream, but to take the tax from a less logical collection point and place it in a tax base that makes more sense.”

Let me repeat that last phrase: “take the tax from a less logical collection point and place it in a tax base that makes more sense.”

Stated more plainly, we’ll abolish a tax on prepared food enjoyed by those who can afford to dine out, and replace it with a tax on unprepared food that is a basic necessity of life.

This shift may be revenue neutral, as Rep. Frank claims, but the burden will be shifted from those who have expendable income enough to enjoy eating out, and will be borne disproportionately by the poor and working poor of the state who will be required to pay a greater percentage of their income to fund those convention centers and other ‘cultural’ venues.

In the comments Rep Frank says this proposal has nothing to do with Sen. Stephenson’s proposal to raise sales taxes on food. He is only partially right in that. While theoe may be two separate proposals, they both end up hurting the people most who already find their grocery-buying dollar stretched to the limit.

This proposal by Frank is nothing more than bowing to the restaurant industry. Restaurants benefit from those convention centers and cultural events. If a tax is needed to fund those things, then a restaurant tax seems far more appropriate than a grocery store tax.

This bill should never have made it out of committee and it must surely be defeated when brought to a vote.

Cross-posted at Utah Legislature Watch

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To balance the budget, let’s tax the poor more

He’s not just a state senator, he’s the president of the Utah Taxpayer’s Association, “your tax watchdog”. His own personal web site says,”Fighting to reduce your taxes, not add more!” (exclamation point is his)

But now Sen. Howard Stephenson, taxpaper advocate, is saying we need to increase the tax on food to the same rate people pay for boats and SUVs. He’d rather reduce the state income tax, which he says would be a real economic stimulus. Stimulus for whom? The thousands of Utahns who have lost their jobs? The tens of thousands of Utahns who live paycheck to paycheck? Or is it the buddies who hand out Jazz tickets and free dinners during the legislative session? Sure let’s drop the income tax on those who need it the least, and let’s make life even tougher by forcing lower income people to pay a disproportionate amount of their income on taxes.

Everyone eats, that means taxing food is the easy way out. It’s not the equitable solution, it’s just the easy one.

Okay, taxpayers of Dist. 11, I want you to remember this name the next time you see it on a ballot. This is your representative who thinks that adding the sales tax back onto food is a good way of bringing more money into state coffers:
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper


“Without a doubt, our budget would not be as bad off as it is now had we reduced the income tax more and left the food sales tax intact,” Stephenson says.

He says the food tax is a more stable revenue source than the income tax; while incomes rise and fall with the economic times, everybody has to eat.

Stephenson and Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, are now calling for the sales tax on unprepared food to be restored to the same rate as the general state sales tax: 4.70 percent.

The rate was ultimately reduced, in two separate moves in 2006 and 2007, to 1.75 percent–where it stands today.



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