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Missouri still collects sales tax on food. Why???? (And what WE can do about it)

Story by Pat Holland and Grant Fox  (for Immediate Release) 8-29-22                                            

Legislatively, 2022 was an interesting year in Missouri. Many popular bills did not get proper treatment, if any at all. An example of this was Mary Elizabeth Coleman’s HB1992 which would have repealed statutory sales tax on food in grocery stores. Because of the consistent overflow of funds coming in from the lottery, we could do without this tax. The bill was intentionally neglected by the House Floor Leader, Dean Plocher (House District 89). Despite its popularity with the people, Representative Plocher caused the bill to languish on the calendar, which is a commonly used legislative stall tactic, keeping the bill from having any floor time for debate or perfection, even though it was supported by many phone calls and emails from people throughout the state. Perhaps because of the redistricting debate, many important bills just never saw the light of day, but we also saw unpopular bills, such as restrictive initiative process reform HJR79, which were fast tracked by Representative Plocher through the House while popular bills, such as HB1992 for the elimination of sales tax on food, were ignored.

 

We have personally spoken to dozens of folks who called Dean Plocher’s office in March, April, and May of 2022 and emailed him in support of getting HB1992 on the floor, for debate and perfection, received no call backs or responses to their emails. A missed opportunity for Representative Plocher to be in touch with his constituents and other Missouri voters, who were calling on him as the House Majority Floor Leader.

 

This may be an opportunity for Governor Parson in the upcoming special session which starts on September 6, given that he has called a special session for items such as tax breaks and incentives for Missouri agriculture. Now is the time to revisit sales tax on groceries in this special session.

 

Awareness of the possibility to remove sales tax on groceries is growing because of inflation, particularly in food prices, which would benefit lower and middle income folks. It wouldn’t require much political will to accomplish, simply because of the popularity of such a measure on both sides of the mainstream political spectrum.

 

Because of inflation, most Missourians are struggling and have to prioritize their budgets to afford the most basic necessities to function in society, such as food and gasoline which have seen historic increases in the past two years. At the same time, because of inflation, Missouri has had historic tax revenues without a corresponding increase in wages. Perhaps the Missouri government could tighten its belt in solidarity with Missourians in order to help all Missourians meet basic needs, in a bipartisan and productive way. Elimination of the grocery store sales tax would certainly go a long way to assure us (the People of Missouri) that the politicians care about the folks who elected them.

 

If you would like to see your dollar go further in your pantry by eliminating the food tax in Missouri grocery stores, don’t keep it to yourself. Your Representative and Senator would love to hear your voice and many of them are responsive. The Governor’s office needs to hear from you too. Let’s work together so that our household food budgets don’t become political footballs in Jefferson City especially since people need this relief now, not a year from now.

Missouri House Roster: https://www.house.mo.gov/MemberRoster.aspx

Missouri Senate Roster: https://www.senate.mo.gov/senators-listing/

Governor’s number:  https://governor.mo.gov/contact-us (573) 751-3222