I congratulate the legislature for voting to eliminate the tax on groceries. Getting rid of this tax helps Idaho families by allowing them to keep more of the money they earn. Not only does this provide badly needed financial relief, it also means local Idaho stores will see an increase in business. Retail stores in our border towns badly need customers, and Idaho has a lot of border towns. Historically, Idaho’s grocery tax has encouraged Idahoans to buy from retailers in Ontario, Spokane, and other towns that surround us. We need to help the small shops that are a vital source of revenue for so many towns throughout our state.
Currently, Idahoans can get a grocery tax credit when filing their tax returns. Sen. Cliff Bayer and I championed the effort to put that credit in place in 2009. But as Sen. Bayer recently explained to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, the grocery tax credit has done all it can do. Eliminating the tax altogether is the next step in helping people deal with high food prices.
Some people have concerns about the potential impact of lost sales tax revenue to the state budget if the repeal goes into law. I understand those concerns, but the impact will not be as much as some people think. This is because most of the cost has already been offset by the grocery tax credit Sen. Bayer and I got passed in 2009. Also, consumer spending will increase… exactly how much is not clear, but if people know they will pay less when they go to the grocery store, they’re likely to spend more for other items - some of which will be subject to sales tax.
And, reducing the tax burden of every Idahoan is only a beginning. We’ve got to do several other things to boost economic growth. These include more high-paying technology and natural resource-based jobs; a better and more modern tax and regulatory climate that makes Idaho truly business friendly; a greater focus of education on careers for the future – especially in cutting-edge technologies; and require state government to do more with less.
Reducing the grocery tax burden on our citizens will give them needed financial relief and will help Idaho’s small businesses. We can and should do this. Thanks, Russ.
Russ Fulcher is a candidate for Governor in 2018. He can be reached at email@example.com or www.russfulcher.com.