Unwise vs. unjust? A Statesman editorial argues that it would be “unwise” to exempt groceries from Idaho sales tax, because sales tax is an important revenue source for Idaho, and the grocery tax credit “offsets most of the tax contribution from Idahoans with low incomes.”
The argument entails a value judgment that it is acceptable to tax some low-income families more than the tax credit returns, or else it is acceptable for low-income families to be undernourished.
Leaving aside the generous credit of $120 to seniors, everyone else can apply for $100 per year per person, provided they do not receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits. $100 offsets a 6 percent sales tax on just under $1,700; dividing by 52, that equals about $33 per week. That’s generous for a young child, but up to $8 short for ages 12 to 50, for adequate nutrition under USDA’s “thrifty” plan. SNAP households get 70 percent of their groceries tax-free, pay sales tax on the other 30 percent, and receive zero grocery tax credit. (See “Exempting Groceries, Eliminating the Grocery Tax Credit” at www.iirah.org.)
Low-income families are subsidizing the rest of us, which is unjust.
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Darcy James, Boise