Utah organization opposes increase on food tax

Published 12/21 2012 05:46PM

Updated 12/21 2012 05:59PM

SALT LAKE CITY - (ABC 4 News) - Gina Cornia, Executive Director of Utahans Against Hunger said a proposed tax hike could be a problem for Utahans.

"Our main concern is the impact it will have on low income households, whether those are individuals or families," said Gina.

If the proposal passes, food tax would jump from 1.75% to 4.75%, reversing a tax cut made 5 years ago.

 "Sales tax on food is highly regressive, and low-income families shouldn't have to bare the burden of that," Gina said.

Senator John Valentine, sponsor of the proposal, told ABC 4's Lauren Johnson that only 12% of Utahans would feel the effect. Only Utahans who make over 60,000 dollars would pay the full percentage, and that it wouldn't effect low income families who use food stamps, because they don't pay sales tax on food.

But Gina doesn't see it that way.

 "Only 63 percent of those households that are eligible access the program, so 37 percent of food stamp households are going to be paying full price for their food when they go to the grocery store," explained Gina. 

But Senator Valentine explains that lower income families would actually benefit, because they would also be eligible for the proposals refund credit, which would be an extra help to their budget.

"It requires them to take an additional step of filing a state tax return. I mean, how are they even going to know how to do that?'' Asks Gina.

Although Valentine will wait for Washington to resolve the Fiscal Cliff before pushing his proposal, he feels it will pass in the Senate, and believes the tax increase would stabilize the state budget.

Most states don't have a food tax.

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