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Would you support legislation removing sales tax on food bought in California? Why or...

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activeg | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 8, 2011 at 3:17 AM via web

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Would you support legislation removing sales tax on food bought in California? Why or why not?

States tax their citizens in different ways (i.e., income, property, sales)

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 8, 2011 at 6:29 AM (Answer #2)

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I would support the idea of removing a sales tax on food.  The reason for this is that a sales tax on food is a very regressive form of tax.

A regressive tax is one where a person who makes less money pays a higher percentage of that money in tax than a person who makes more money.  For example, a person who makes $1,000,000 is not likely to spend 20 times as much on food as a person who makes $50,000, even though their income is 20 times higher.  This means that the person with less money will spend a higher percentage of their income on food.  If food is taxed, the poorer person will pay out a higher percentage of their income on sales taxes than the rich person.

A regressive tax seems fundamentally unjust to me and therefore I would support such legislation.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 8, 2011 at 7:50 AM (Answer #3)

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Pohnpei makes an excellent point in the previous post. I live in Florida, where there is no sales tax on most food products. Although both states are facing financial shortfalls, Florida chooses not to attempt to recover additional revenue through taxing food items. Perhaps this is due to the high number of fixed income retirees as well as the generally lower employment income of its citizens. (For that reason, Florida likewise does not have a state income tax, as do many other states.) Floridians would likely never agree to accept an amendment that would add a sales tax on food, and I sympathize with Californians and other Americans who are forced to do so.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted March 10, 2011 at 12:28 PM (Answer #4)

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Both the above posts make excellent points. I hadn't thought of a food sales tax as a regressive tax, but it truly is. I also live in Florida, and agree that legislators hear would find it very difficult to make major changes to the tax structure that currently exists.

One thing not addressed would be the outcome of removing an existing tax on the state budget. While in theory removing the tax would be good for California's economy (everyone would have more in their pocket to spend elsewhere since everyone buys food) how would the government make up for what would have to be a large shortfall? While I agree that a tax on food, or any neccessity is unfair, the reality is that it exists because it is certain to produce income. Taxing luxuries makes more sense to the common person, but does not assure the revenue the way taxing food does. I would certainly support the repeal of the tax, but would first want to know how the revenue that had previously come from the food tax would be replaced.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2011 at 10:13 AM (Answer #5)

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I don't think food should be taxed.  Food is a necessity.  It is already too expensive.  There are plenty of hungry people.  If people can barely afford food, adding a tax will make it that much harder for them to make ends meet.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:42 AM (Answer #6)

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A tax on food is a regressive tax, in that it essentially penalizes people for being poor. Everyone needs food, so it's not as though they can avoid the tax by consuming less. Everyone will have to pay, and as a percentage of their income, poor people would be paying more taxes than rich people. I actually think that is the definition of class warfare, in this example, where a cycle of poverty is reinforced by tax policy. Surely there are better ways for a state to generate revenue than to tax the food they buy.

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