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Eventual elimination of state sales tax on food won’t guarantee tax-free grocery bill

In Kansas, the current state sales tax is 6.5 percent.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 8:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In three years, you’ll no longer have to pay any state sales tax on groceries in Kansas. It starts phasing out next year with the tax eliminated in 2025. That doesn’t mean you won’t see a sales tax on your grocery bill as many counties and cities may continue their community’s sales tax.

In Kansas, the current state sales tax is 6.5 percent. While that will be reduced to zero by 2025, Sedgwick County has its own 1-percent countywide sales tax. Sedgwick County commissioners approved that 1-percent tax in 1985.

“What that does is it provides some property tax relief and it also provides funding for us to do road and bridge work,” Sedgwick County Commission President David Dennis said.

When looking at only groceries, that one percent generated more than $15 million last year. That sales tax is then split up to Sedgwick County cities with Wichita getting the most at 57.3 percent.

“We could make the decision to eliminate that 1-cent sales tax from Sedgwick County. That would take an act from the board of county commissioners. We’ve really not had it on the agenda to this point,” Dennis explained.

If Sedgwick County’s food sales tax was eliminated, Wichita would lose about $8.9 million and Sedgwick County would lose $4.4 million.

“When you buy $100 worth of groceries, would you rather pay that one dollar or would you rather see this revenue shifted over to property taxes? Without question, everyone that I’ve talked to so far says, ‘oh, I don’t want more property taxes,’” Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said.

Commissioner Lacey Cruse said a possible decision concerning the county’s sales tax would be one she’d have to ponder.

“How does being a commissioner and being in this seat translate to making a decision for this many people? And that’s a really heavy thing to think about, and that’s going to take a little bit of time for me to decide,” she said.

Looking at the state sales tax on groceries, soft drinks and candy are including among items on which the tax would be phased out over the next few years. But alcoholic beverages, tobacco and most prepared foods are excluded.

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