Friday, July 17, 2015

Taxing Food for Productive People : Food Stamps Run Free & Wild

What is disturbing here is the price for food has already skyrocketed over the last several years and  to have a tax added on top of this increase? Interesting as well is that food is not considered to add to the rate of inflation. Why is that? Gasoline as well.

I wonder if that consideration will change when the price of bread reaches $6 dollars or the price of beef $10 dollars a pound? Or when the number of people on food stamps reaches 100 million? It stands at 50 million now, so the idea of a third of population receiving free food is not out of the question.

Of course that our country is broke right now and in debt for generations to come is of no consequence. Making the hard decisions to save the country has to left to others at some later date. Right now the new norm is 'take the money and run'.

The Success of SNAP (Food Stamps) and the Desirability of Taxing Food
 Source: Ana L. Johnson and Steven M. Sheffrin, "The Success of SNAP (Food Stamps) and the Desirability of Taxing Food," Tulane University, April 21, 2015.

July 16, 2015

Most states either totally or partially exclude food at home from the general sales tax. This exclusion generates a debate between tax policy analysts with their emphasis on broad base, low-rate tax systems against the advocates for the poor who argue that the exemption for food is necessary on distributional grounds.

States that tax food at home are often singled out as having particularly regressive and punitive tax systems. What is missing from this debate is a serious discussion of the consequences of non-taxability of benefits under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps). Ana L. Johnson and Steven M. Sheffrin of Tulane University find: The SNAP program effectively reaches the vast majority of the poor thus making the taxability of food at home much less important for individuals in lower income tiers.

The non-taxability of SNAP benefits reduces the regressivity of the sales tax in states that tax food. In Alabama, the effective tax rates as measured by consumption for four income categories are 2.6 percent, 3.2 percent, 3.8 percent, and 4.2 percent after accounting for SNAP. In general, broadening the sales tax rate to include food at home and lowering the rate will help the poor with their SNAP benefits.

Overall, including food at home in the sales tax base with a correspondent adjustment of the overall tax rate would be a beneficial change.

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