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Long Lines at the Checkout for Idaho Grocery Tax Update

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February 26, 2007

A tax break that benefits just about everyone may be decided in the Idaho legislature this week, as wrangling continues over how best to update the state's grocery tax credit. Structuring the benefit based on income is one option, and it's expected to bring supporters to the Statehouse steps in Boise on Monday.

Currently, every Idaho resident receives a $20 credit on their state income tax forms. Governor Otter has proposed a sliding scale for the credit, with those making less than $50,000 a year receiving a maximum credit of $90. Another plan would give every Idahoan a $50 tax break regardless of income; $70 for senior citizens.

A grocery tax credit increase already has been the subject of lengthy legislative debate, and rally organizer Vivian Parish of the Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger says it's time to make the decision.

"The tax credit needs to be increased, and targeted to low-income and middle-income families who really need it."

Some have suggested that Idahoans receiving Food Stamps should not receive a grocery credit. In Parish's view, that's not fair, since Food Stamps only cover part of a family's grocery bill.

"They should fully participate in the credit. Food Stamps do not feed a family fully for a month."

The rally is scheduled for noon today on the Statehouse steps. The legislation, House Bill 81, is now in the hands of the Senate, which is considering the proposed amendments this week.

Deborah Smith/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - ID