Shoppers could save money on groceries if food tax ban passes. Here's why cities aren't sold.


Paulina Pineda, Arizona Republic

Feb. 5, 2019


Tempe resident Deloris Drebert stops by the grocery store several times a week to shop for her family of four. On a recent trip, she spent $35 and about 72 cents of her bill went to taxes.


“Just think, if every time I went to the store, instead of paying taxes I put that 72 cents in my pocket," she said. "That’s money that can go in the gas tank.”


Drebert and other shoppers could see their grocery bills get a bit lighter if a proposed bill that would eliminate sales taxes on groceries passes.


House Bill 2158, sponsored by Rep. Shawnna Bolick, a Phoenix Republican, would exempt food intended for home consumption from being taxed by municipalities. Food sold at restaurants would not be exempt.


Supporters argue food is a necessity and should not be taxed. The bill has not yet been heard in committee and Bolick declined to comment on the proposal.


Critics say the ban would shoot holes in city budgets. All but about 20 Arizona cities and towns tax food, collecting a total of $115.2 million annually, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue.


Drebert said saving a couple of bucks each trip to the grocery store would be good, but she suspects residents would pay for it in other ways.


“I just came from Texas and they don’t have income taxes but their property taxes have gone up so much more because of it,” she said. “If we had to do something like that, and it’s going to cause the property tax to go up or anything else, then I would be somewhat opposed.”


League: Bill could throw cities 'into a devastating hole' ...


Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson don't tax groceries ...


Shrinking tax base ...


Supporters: 'Food is a necessity for survival' ...


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