Idaho, let’s eat 6% better

Print Article

It never came up during last week’s town hall meeting with three local legislators, but by the time the 2019 session is over, repealing the Idaho sales tax on groceries might go down as one of the lawmakers’ best moves in years.

All signs point to Idaho finally killing an onerous tax that bites virtually every Idahoan but hurts the poor the most. We almost got there once.

Repealing the 6 percent sales tax on groceries was overwhelmingly approved by legislators in 2017, but Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the measure. His concern was that the deficit created by eliminating the tax could prove perilous to properly financing important programs like education.

Legislators sought Supreme Court support to overcome Otter’s veto, but failed. Knowing the governor would veto a new measure in 2018, there simply wasn’t much sense in fighting that battle again this year. But 2019 is shaping up differently.

That’s largely because Gov.-elect Brad Little supports eliminating the grocery tax, so long as the definition of groceries is clear and barring a significant jolt to the state’s revenue stream. By all accounts, repeal looks imminent. Thank goodness.

In today’s front-page story by Judd Wilson, local legislators consistently point out that taxing something so basic to survival is wrong. That the 6 percent tax actually keeps food off hungry citizens’ plates should be an unpalatable proposition to any conscientious Idahoan.

While Idaho offers a grocery tax credit, it’s an extra step that therefore isn’t always capitalized upon. Nor does it go far enough.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture study done back in 2013 showed that most American families of four were spending $150 to $300 a week on groceries. Food prices have risen since then, but assuming a reasonable average of $250 a week, the 6 percent sales tax on groceries is costing Idaho families $780 a year — nearly double the $400 tax credit for that family. A far simpler, more equitable and humane approach is to eliminate the tax at the cash register.

We would also argue that a bottom-line pinch to the state’s tax pocket would at least partly be offset by the likelihood that consumers will spend some of that 6 percent savings on other taxable products. A boost to almost everyone’s disposable income only bodes well for Idaho’s economy.

Feeling good because we’re doing the right thing is even better.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Happiness is an elephant ear and a summer smile

August 21, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press There’s one sure way to say farewell to summer with a smile on your mug. Head to the fair. Yeah, yeah, we know. Summer doesn’t officially end for another month. But ask any school kid starting to s...

Comments

Read More

Bond issue exposes cost guessing game

August 18, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press On March 26, 2018, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed into law HB 626, an innocuous-looking, yawn-inducing bit of legislation that requires ballot language outlining the cost of proposed school bond issue...

Comments

Read More

NIC loses a battle but is winning war

August 16, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Some North Idaho College fans are calling for the president’s head. In the wake of severe sanctions delivered by the Northwest Athletic Conference as reported by The Press this week, there’s clamorin...

Comments

Read More

The night the lights went out in Cd’A

August 14, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press In his 2015 New York Times bestseller “Lights Out,” journalist Ted Koppel explores the terrifying vulnerability of our nation to a cyberattack that would shut down power indefinitely. Sound vaguely ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X