Sens. Russ Fulcher and Cliff Bayer have drafted a bill to exempt food from Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax, saying that’s better policy than the grocery tax credit they helped enact in 2008.
“We really don’t think there should be a tax on food,” said Fulcher, R-Meridian, who started working with Bayer on the issue in 2006 when they represented the same southwest Ada County legislative district.
“There’s a fairness issue,” said Bayer, R-Boise, noting that 32 states don’t tax groceries. “It’s a necessity.”
Their measure would be effective July 1, 2016.
Repealing the sales tax on food would cut state sales tax revenues $172 million in fiscal 2017, Bayer said, but would be offset by repealing the tax credit. The net cost to the state is estimated at $26 million, he said.
Bayer and Fulcher said they have more than two dozen co-sponsors from both parties and hope to get the bill introduced this week.
But the absence of House Revenue & Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins — he was to have his spleen removed Monday and miss the entire week — means that’s unlikely.
“I am not supportive of Senator Fulcher’s and Senator Bayer’s idea,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said Monday. “I’m not a fan.”
The idea also met with skepticism from Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee Chairman Jeff Siddoway, who said he learned of the measure Monday when asked about it by a Statesman reporter. Siddoway said he would oppose the change and favors directing $90 in tax relief to full repeal of the tax on personal property, excepting utilities.
Fulcher acknowledged his bill will be seen through a campaign lens, but said it is not motivated by his bid to unseat Otter.
For more on story, including details on sales tax policy around the country and more from skeptics of the bill, read tomorrow’s Idaho Statesman in print, or online.