Grocery tax decision still in limbo

Assessing the 2017 legislative session

BOISE - The 2017 legislative session may be over, but the fate of a few proposals is still unknown and awaiting a decision from Governor Otter.

Among them, a bill that would impact every Idahoan: the repeal of the sales tax on groceries.

Governor Otter urged lawmakers to leave the grocery sales tax alone, but hasn't said if he will veto the bill if passed.

Both Republican and Democratic law makers say there is no telling what the Governor will do.

"It's hard to know because the Governor, when he expresses strong dislike for something doesn't mean he'll necessarily veto something.” Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett said. “I think we're pleased to see the grocery tax repeal go through both houses because it is the most regressive tax for in that particular case for all of the lower income people… food is a basic need."

The bill would eliminate the six-percent sales tax on groceries, so money would immediately go back in the pockets of Idaho residents. 

Right now, the taxes Idahoans pay on groceries go directly into the state's general fund. Come tax season, you get a grocery tax credit when filing your income taxes.

The bill would also eliminate that credit. 

Individuals who oppose this proposed bill say it will create a $48 million deficit in the general fund.

House speaker Scott Bedke says he would prefer to see lawmakers take a broader look at the sales tax. 

"Lower the rate from six (percent) down into the four's, and have a broader sales tax base. I believe that a sales tax is an inherently fair tax,” Bedke said. “But I'm the Speaker of the House and there was overwhelming support to eliminate the sales tax on food and I will support and advocate for their position."

Governor Otter has until April 10 to veto the bill, sign it or allow it to become law without his signature.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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