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LETTER: A better option on food tax

(metro creative)

To the Editor:

Surprise! A required tax cut is in the works. A little-known section of a 2016 law says one-tenth percent will come off the state's general sales tax rate when revenue goes up $20 million from tax on online sales.

Opportunity! A better option would be for this legislature to cut a whole percent off groceries instead. A tax cut for food makes sense. In 2003, tax "streamlining" rules were needed to position the state to tax online sales. The collateral damage was that South Dakota cities raised tax on food. Formerly cities were limited to 1 percent on food. As in Mitchell, city food tax went to 2 percent. Rapid City's went from 0 percent to 2 percent. Thus, we pay more for food to make possible the expected new revenue, so it makes sense to direct the impending tax cut to groceries.

This legislature could make that change. In 2003, some legislators said they would cut the food tax when the state finally receives tax from online sales. There is time. Nothing is truly finished until the final gavel sounds. This legislature could still take the high road and switch the one-tenth percent cut in the general rate into a whole percent off food. There are more reasons, of course. Food tax is the most regressive way part of sales tax. None of our neighbor states tax food, so we lose tax dollars as people shop across borders putting more than food in their carts. The food tax takes food off family tables.

Cathy Brechtelsbauer, Sioux Falls

Jean Rosenkranz, Rapid City