Entries Tagged 'food tax' ↓

The SD ‘Food Tax’ Dilemma

Trust me, I don’t stand out on street corners holding a sign that says ‘End the Food Tax’ but I do think eliminating the tax, at least partially would be a good idea.

So why am I bringing this up months before the legislative session? Well it seems there may be winds of change blowing on the issue in Pierre this year.

The other night I ran into a state representative, and let’s just say this, we are on ‘talking terms’. One of the topics of conversation was ‘legislative’ proposals. They had a great idea; eliminate the food tax on fresh fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets to encourage healthy eating habits. I liked where this person was going with the idea, so I told them they should go a step farther, and eliminate the food tax on all fresh foods and preparable foods (i.e. milk, flour, eggs). I told them that Bread for the World has been fighting this fight for years in the legislature, but maybe if they teamed up with a legislator that wasn’t a Democrat, they might get somewhere on the issue.

They gave me that normal right winger scowl you often see when you ask them to be bi-partisan. They did say they would take that into consideration. I hope so, I already told Bread for the World about your proposal. Teamwork kids! Teamwork!

21,231 of Minnehaha County residents receive SNAP

I often cringe when I hear our mayor talk about the 3% unemployment rate in Sioux Falls, because when you compare that rate to how many people are receiving food stamps, something isn’t adding up. Sioux Falls is a bastion of ‘working poor’ who may have a job or several, but still must depend on government programs to get by and feed their families. Of that 3% rate, I am curious how many of these people are ‘underemployed’ or are working 50-60 hours a week and several jobs.

I challenge our finance director and mayor to give us the ‘real’ numbers when it comes to employment in SF.

DOC, County by County: WEB_SNAP_July2013

Okay, the State legislature did pass one good bill

HB 1206 passed and the governor signed it on Friday.

It makes an appropriation for emergency food assistance grants and repeals the sales tax on food refund program.

Now if we can just get rid of that pesky food tax!

MLK DAY

When you listen to this speech by MLK, you can’t help to think about our current situation, except it applies to ALL of the working class, not just minorities.

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will only be an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.”  -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

FROM BREAD FOR THE WORLD

Let’s Do Something About Why People are Hungry.

There are many reasons. One is South Dakota’s tax on groceries.

• Grocery prices are up! The state can’t undo the high prices, but it could help by getting the tax off.

• Times are tough!

• Solutions are available! especially for the state portion (4%) of the food tax. This would help middle- and lower-income people. Most states do not tax groceries. No state bordering South Dakota taxes food.

• The food tax refund program is not the answer. It now reaches only 264 households in the whole state, despite much greater need. These types of programs are inherently ineffective.

• Cutting the food tax is the right thing to do. This tax hurts. What people pay annually in food tax (state + city tax) could buy their food for 3 weeks.

What to do? Enough people need to ask state legislators to start cutting the food tax. To join an email network of advocates, send your name, address & phone to: ryebread@breadrising.org.

www.endthefoodtax.org

South Dakotans ended the tax on medical services and outlawed paying to use toilets. You don’t pay a tax before you can vote or before you can breathe. No one should have to pay a tax before they can eat.

Position Statement on Sales Tax Initiative

Bread for the World-South Dakota • September 13, 2011

Bread for the World-South Dakota neither supports nor opposes the South Dakota ballot initiative to raise the sales tax.  We realize that it raises funds and specifies them for important causes.  However, it also raises the sales tax rate on a number of life’s basic necessities.

We believe that both supporters and opponents can agree that sales tax on groceries should not be raised–regardless of whether the initiative passes and the tax goes up on other things. Even without adding additional tax on food, the initiative would still raise over $160 million for schools and Medicaid – a significant sum.

The ballot initiative, as written, allows a way to keep the increase from being applied to food, because it applies the additional 1% sales tax only to items that are taxed at the 4% state rate. Thus, if the 2012 legislature would take any amount off food, even 1/2%, the food tax would not go up if the petition passes.

In this case, the food tax (state and local sales taxes combined), which currently costs families annually enough to buy 3 weeks worth of food, would not go up to 3-and-a-half weeks. It would keep the tax on a basic can of powdered baby formula below $1.

Even a one-half-percent reduction would be an acknowledgement of the current economic struggle.

This position neither supports nor opposes the initiative.  However, it is our hope that both supporters and opponents of the initiative will agree that keeping the tax on food as low as possible would be helpful for children, families, seniors and nursing homes, for good health, and for the economy.

MY THOTS: Taxing food more to fund healthcare and education seems a bit assbackwards considering good nutrition helps students learn better and contributes to a longer life. But solving problems by going to root seems to easy. Nevermind.

 

Real Classy South Dakota

Okay, so the state department of revenue just chooses to ignore a state law for decades (instead of just telling the legislature to fix it) Then all of sudden decides they must enforce it? Then says if you want to skirt the law, you can go thru a complicated application process for something you may do a couple of times a year? Then, the kicker, since they can’t tax people who receive free food (from food banks and churches) they have to tax the food these orgs are giving away? WOW! Talk about having to pay extra for a undercooked shit sandwich;

About 275 organizations statewide that give away food to needy people might be forced to pay a long-unenforced sales tax, prompting some to worry the agencies simply will stop providing food to the poor.

At issue is a handling fee that agencies pay to the organization that supplies them with food.

A state law outlining the taxes has been on the books for decades. But it wasn’t until late last year that an audit discovered the maintenance fees existed and needed to be taxed, said Jan Talley, director of the state’s Business Tax Division.

“We are charged with enforcing the statutes of South Dakota,” she said.

Your charged with enforcing a law that you haven’t enforced for decades? So instead of just getting the powers of be to fix it, you have to be the assmunch instead and enforce it? Seriously?! Pierre is freaking broken, and this is further proof.

But the best part is the Argue Endorser’s online poll today;

 

I would like to meet these clowns that think it is okay to tax orgs that give food to the needy. I have a sandwich I would like to feed them. And it’s not made of turds.

 

Food tax to rise again? (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Cathy Brechtelsbauer from the local chapter of Bread for the World

July 30, 2011. There’s another article in the Argus today on a proposed ballot initiative to raise the sales tax and we still can’t tell if it includes the sales tax on food. The initiative’s wording is not yet announced, but it is a cause for worry that two or three articles on the topic have not mentioned exempting food from the increase.

Planners of the initiative represent education and healthcare organizations. They hope to raise $175 million for education and Medicaid. Funds are needed because of cuts from the last legislative session and governor.

A 1% sales tax increase may seem like simplest idea for an initiative, but South Dakota’s sales tax applies to food! In 2010 each per cent on food (home food, not prepared food) raised an estimated $14 million.

Background info: The “streamlining” sales tax rules allow for tax rates on food and utilities to be different from the general sales tax rate, even zero percent. Lately some states have taken advantage of this and have been stepping down their food tax, like Arkansas. None of our neighbor states tax food. North Dakota has been phasing out the tax on home heating bills.

At least food be exempted in this initiative. By exempting food the tax increase would inflict somewhat less hurt on those the initiative is trying to help. There’s something strange about raising sales tax to help nursing homes: South Dakota nursing homes (unlike hospitals) pay sales tax on all of their food and supplies. A sales tax increase would cost them dearly and also unduly hit their workers, who are not exactly rolling in dough. An exemption for food would reduce the initiative’s negative impact. Similarly for the South Dakota teachers with incomes low enough that they too struggle to cover the basics for their families.

The biggest concern might be the impact on nutrition: child nutrition, senior nutrition, diet-related diseases. The food tax in South Dakota is already equivalent to three weeks worth of food in a year. Teachers too often see the effects of child hunger on learning. Child hunger is probably worse in summers without school meals. Relatively few kids make it to the summer lunch sites. Healthcare workers see how hard it is for people to eat healthy.

Healthy food is not necessarily the cheapest. (The states with the highest obesity rates are among the nation’s few food taxing states.)

You can add to those issues the impact of the food tax on already strained local food charities; regressive taxation; wealth disparity; potential shrinking of the safety net looming from federal budget cutters and cappers. And with an almost useless state food tax refund program, you can see why some of us will be unwilling to support a ballot initiative that raises the food tax, even though we care deeply about education and healthcare.

Better ideas for a sales tax initiative: Even if the initiative would forego the food’s portion of the tax ($14 million in 2010), it could still raise a big sum. Better yet would be a reduction in the food tax, however slight. Either of these approaches would signal a recognition of the struggles of nursing homes and ordinary families trying to put food on the table so their kids’ tummies aren’t growling when the teacher is trying to teach.

Cathy Brechtelsbauer, Bread for the World, Sioux Falls

The most important office of government is citizen. -Justice Louis Brandeis

 

HB1131 voted down this morning (Food Tax shift)

This comes as no surprise to me (From my email box);

Advocates,

Unfortunately HB1131, to shift tax off food, was voted down in House Taxation Committee this morning.

You can thank the supporters: Rep’s Feickert, Feinstein (bill sponsor), Kirschman, and Bernie Hunhoff

Voting against the bill: Conzet, Greenfield, Kirkeby, Liss, Moser, Perry, Rozum, Russell, Solum, Wick, Willadson.  (Last year Kirkeby voted for a similar bill.)

Listen to the whole committee hearing by going to:

http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2011/CommitteeMinutes.aspx?Committee=24&File=minHTA01270745.htm#2040

Click on the SDPB symbol at the top over the date 1/27, and scroll half way through the session because this bill came up about half way through.

There was an excellent body of testimony by Rep Feinstein, Greg Boris of Voices for Children, Matt Gassen (director of Feeding South Dakota, our food bank network), Pastor Karl Kroger, Joy Smolnisky of South Dakota Budget and Policy Project, and Kristin Ashenbrenner of SD Advocacy Network for Women. Also weighing in were Luke Temple of Dakota Rural Action and Senator Billie Sutton of District 26.

The opponents were Jim Terwilliger from SD Bureau of Finance & Mgt, David Owen of the Chamber of Commerce, and Ron Olinger of SD Retailers.

Comments of the legislators before the vote were very interesting:

Conzet and Wick said the refund program needs to do more educating. (It should be noted that people have tried over 7 years, which should be enough evidence that such programs do not work.)

Moser said the people who come to his church for help in Yankton are asking for help with rent, medical, and utilities, not food, and there are enough programs helping with food.

Liss said this bill “sets up a financial incentive to obesity”

B. Hunhoff, a supporter, said this will happen someday. Why not today? It’s a good moral step to help working families and the elderly.

The bill was “deferred to the 41st day”. That is how they kill a bill, because there are only 40 days in the session. We always say nothing is over ’til the final gavel sounds, but this vote seems fairly decisive, esp. given the party-line nature of the vote, unlike last year.

Nevertheless, legislators need to understand that South Dakotans really do not like this tax. The publicity against the 2004 ballot initiative had claimed it would cause an income tax and schools closing and snow not being plowed. It said the refund program would solve the problem. Seven years later, legislators should not be able to hide behind a failed, inherently ineffective refund program.

Many thanks to everyone who made contacts on this so far. This bill’s loss does not stop the cause, which goes on, toward making South Dakota a fairer state where all people can thrive.

The Advocacy Project

While I support eliminating the food tax, I think lobbying our State Legislature is a waste of time. Get a big time donor and put it on the ballot. It will pass this time.

BTW, Brian, why did you vote against this?

Another ‘Crash & Burn’ food tax elimination proposal? Maybe we should have a barbie?

Don’t get me wrong, I have always felt that a tax on (essential) food is immoral, idiotic and pretty much insensitive and unfair to the poor, and everybody for that matter. It’s kinda like health insurance. No one should be benefitting from essential goods and services to sustain life. But I also have the feeling that it will fail, again;

SIOUX FALLS, SD – You could be paying less at the grocery store if one South Dakota lawmaker has his way. For the second time in as many years Sioux Falls Representative Marc Feinstein plans to propose cutting the state tax on groceries. Feinstein says constituents have told him how difficult it can be to make ends meet.

And Marc’s idea has merit;

The major difference in this bill replaces the lost four percent grocery tax revenue by adding .35 percent to all other taxable goods.

But Marc, don’t you know that means the rich would have to pay more in taxes for all of their luxury items? Why not just continue to tax the shit out of the working poor who we fuck over on a daily basis in an almost non-existant worker rights state?

While I will give props to Marc for trying a different approach, business owner ran Pierre will have no part of it – off with their heads!

Gargoyle Leader Poll results from Friday; Get rid of the Food Tax.

Well duh.

What I can’t figure out is the 30% that think it is okay to tax food? Weird.