Longmont, Taxes

Guest editorial: Let’s repeal Longmont’s grocery tax

Enough talk, let’s get something done. By something, I mean a repeal of Longmont’s grocery tax. We’ve talked and heard the feedback. Every time that the Both Sides of Center podcast (where I am co-host) speaks to grocery taxes over the past months, local food shoppers express their agreement. Food should not be taxed.

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes – used by permission

The county, state and federal governments do not tax food. They all have some tax on everything else except air and water. No part of government that affects local consumers has a tax on food, except Longmont. Our city taxes all food.

Food prepared in a restaurant, whether eat-in or take-out, has transportation, storage, and labor to tax, which is passed on to the consumer in increased prices and taxation.

Food that you prepare in your kitchen is moved in your car, stored in your refrigerator, cooked on your stove, and you are the labor. Longmont taxes you for that.

On June 15,  UnTaxFood filed a thirty word change in the form of a Citizen’s Initiative Proposal by petition. Pretty simple, as follows:

To be added to Longmont city code section 4.04.090. – Sales tax—Exempt items designated.

  • Food purchased for preparation and human consumption by consumers in locations other than provided in 4.04.080(E)
  • For this subsection, “food” shall have the same meaning as provided in 7 USC 2012 Chapter 51(k).

The city code has two existing designations of taxable and un-taxable. The proposed code goes under un-taxable (exempt).

Meals and food served in a restaurant, both eat-in or take-out, is defined in 4.04.080(E) of existing city code. Any place that isn’t defined as already taxable is our definition. Barbecue at the park should not be taxed; more money for sauce.

The city must exempt SNAP and WIC by federal law. The same law defines what food for human consumption is. We simply restate the definition now used in those exemptions.

It doesn’t have to go to the ballot. The city council could adopt the measure, but isn’t likely to.

UnTaxFood is seeking registered voters to collect petition signatures from Longmont voters. Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Let’s do something real about food taxes.

Paul Tiger lives in Longmont, Colorado and is a proponent of the UnTaxFood measure.  For details visit UnTaxFood.org.

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