New Mexico policymakers should take possible food tax off the table - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico policymakers should take possible food tax off the table

Over the past year, New Mexicans have been hit hard by rising food costs. Grocery prices have risen by more than 13%, the largest annual increase since 1979, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, state tax revenues are reaching record levels due to high oil and gas prices and production. The latest projections anticipate state government will have a surplus of $2.45 billion next year.

With families struggling and state coffers overflowing, it is unbelievable legislators would even consider bringing back the regressive food tax – and yet, that proposal continues to be a topic of discussion by the New Mexico Legislature.

As the Legislature’s Revenue Stabilization and Tax Committee met through the summer to discuss the outlines of a major tax reform bill, legislators brought up the food tax again and again, with some expressing regret for the loss of government revenues that resulted from the repeal of the food tax nearly two decades ago.

For example, on July 5, Rep. Moe Maestas, chair of the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, said the state had been “unwise” to stop taxing food. When the issue of taxing groceries was raised again at the Aug. 11 meeting, a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal asked House Taxation and Revenue Committee Chair Rep. Christine Chandler directly whether legislators were considering including a food tax in their legislative package for next session. She responded only that reimposing the food tax is “not a high priority.”

This would not be the first time legislators have included the food tax in a so-called “tax reform” bill. In fact, many such bills have been introduced over the past dozen years, with one making it all the way to the desk of then-Gov. Bill Richardson, who line-item vetoed the food tax.

The candidates running for governor this year have not stated what they would do if the Legislature sent them a “tax reform” bill that included the food tax. Likewise, every member of the state House is up for election this fall, and many of them have not yet taken a position on the food tax.

New research underscores why taxing food is such bad policy. A study published last year by a team of researchers from the University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin, Duke and Cornell found increases in food taxes are closely correlated with increases in food insecurity. A related study also found higher food taxes were linked to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

The harmful impacts of taxing food may help explain why legislatures and governors across the nation are moving to reduce or repeal them. Only Mississippi and Alabama still fully tax food at both the state and local level. Thirty-seven states do not impose any taxes on the sale of food, and that number continues to grow.

Earlier this year, Kansas passed legislation to phase out its food tax over the next several years, joining Arkansas, which passed a similar law in 2019. Also this year, Oklahoma suspended its food tax for the next two years, Illinois suspended its food tax for a year, and Virginia repealed the state portion of its food tax, leaving a local 1% tax in place for now.

Meanwhile, after the Utah legislature passed a bill in 2019 that would have raised its food tax from 1.75% to 4.85%, lawmakers faced massive public protests and a petition campaign against the tax hike. The legislature quickly repealed the higher food tax.

New Mexico lawmakers should learn from their colleagues in other states and the national experts who have studied this issue, and take the food tax off the table.

To learn more and urge your legislators and the governor not to tax food, please visit the Action Center on Think New Mexico’s website at thinknewmexico.org.

 

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » New Mexico policymakers should take possible food tax off the table


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
NMSU coach 'apologetic' about deadly shooting
ABQnews Seeker
Takes responsibility; no comment on discipline Takes responsibility; no comment on discipline
2
Could EV charging stations become targets?
ABQnews Seeker
Sandia researchers sound alarm on potential ... Sandia researchers sound alarm on potential cyberattacks
3
Saint Mary's to challenge unbeaten Lobos in a way ...
College
And now for a real test. ... And now for a real test. The University of New Mexico Lobos, sitting at 6-0 on the sea ...
4
Encore performance: Aggie football to get 12th game
College
There will be a 12th regular ... There will be a 12th regular season football game for New Mexico State after all.The A ...
5
Pressure turns the tables for UNM women during win ...
College
A little full-court pressure made a ... A little full-court pressure made a world of difference for the University of New Mexico women's bas ...
6
Freshman Haulcy hauls in biggest of Lobo football's postseason ...
College
At the end of a discouraging ... At the end of a discouraging 2-10 University of New Mexico football season, A.J. Haulcy embodies reason for hope. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound safety from ...
7
CYFD facing familiar issues, despite changes and a budget ...
ABQnews Seeker
Some 86% of the nearly 1,900 ... Some 86% of the nearly 1,900 children in the agency's custody now placed in foster homes, other settings
8
New Mexico and the world are facing energy shortages
From the newspaper
The October announcement that Saudi Arabia, ... The October announcement that Saudi Arabia, Russia and other oil producing countries - known as ...
9
We can't conflate the politics of climate change with ...
From the newspaper
I appreciate the frustration voiced in ... I appreciate the frustration voiced in Judith Polich's recent Journal column about the lack of ...