News Briefs

Kansas Senate supports elimination of state, local food sales tax

By: - February 24, 2023 1:38 pm
Senate President Ty Masterson originally supported rolling back food sales tax relief on foods deemed unhealthy. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Senate President Ty Masterson originally supported rolling back food sales tax relief for foods deemed unhealthy. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate voted to remove all state and local sales taxes on food next year, in a last-minute reversal of an earlier proposal to curtail sales tax reductions for unhealthy food. 

Senators voted to eliminate the food sales tax Thursday during a Senate debate, advancing an amended version of Senate Bill 248 by a 22-16 vote. The original form of the bill would have rolled back tax relief on food, except for staples deemed healthy by legislators. 

Senate President Ty Masterson originally proposed the legislation as a way to pay for other tax cuts. The idea was to leave the food sales tax partly in place, which is currently set to be fully eliminated in 2025, so that the state could afford a massive flat tax proposal, one that would benefit Kansas’ wealthiest residents. 

But senators on both sides of the aisle voted to change the bill and eliminate the food sales tax, despite concern that getting rid of the local food sales tax would hurt local economies. 

Proponents of the change said the elimination would help Kansans statewide and do more good than Gov. Laura Kelly’s “ax the tax,” plan, which originally proposed the gradual elimination of the state food sales tax.

Sen. Virgil Peck, a Havana Republican, said getting rid of both taxes would bring in revenue from other states and create widespread, positive change. 

“We swing a big ax, we’re not going to have just a little hatchet,” Peck said. “We gotta swing a big ax that takes two hands.” 

The financial effect of the revised bill is unknown.

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.