While some Kansas lawmakers are trying to lower the tax on groceries, a state-by-state comparison indicates lowering the Kansas food tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent would still leave the Sunflower State among higher-taxing states in the nation.
Kansas lawmakers enacted the higher food sales tax in 2015 when the state was facing ongoing revenue shortfall due to massive corporate tax cuts. Shoppers in Kansas pay one of the highest tax rates on groceries of any jurisdiction in the country when state and local taxes are combined.
State data shows sales and excise tax accounts for 8 percent of family income for those in the bottom 20 percent of Kansas wage earners. The impact decreases as income rises, with the top 1 percent of wage earners using only 1 percent for sales tax.
The representative who introduced the bill said it doesn’t rid the problem but is progress for the state.
While Kansas does allow for a partial rebate on the high sales taxes to lower income people at tax time, many community leaders in border towns with other states say the high Kansas tax is taking business away from their supermarkets. Opponents, including the Kansas Farm Bureau, contend lower food sales taxes will have lawmakers seeking other ways to tax food products such as “value-added” taxes on livestock.
Here’s the state-by-state breakdown on food sales taxes by the Federation of Tax Administrators. Not only is Kansas at 6.5 percent the highest food taxer in the region, but the state also ranks third highest in the nation, under California (7.25 percent), Nevada (6.85 percent), and New Jersey (6.625 percent).