Illinois Grocery Tax Makes Controversial Comeback
Friday, June 9, 2023
Most Illinois residents will soon be paying the one-percent state sales tax on their groceries again.
Governor JB Pritzker's temporary tax relief is set to expire July 1 following a one-year suspension. It covered what the state refers to as "low-rate" grocery items, not the "high-rate" foods and beverages taxed at the full 6.25%.
Manuel Villaneuva, western regional director for Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a nonprofit advocating for workers in the restaurant industry, said the return of the 1% tax can be tough for the low-wage workforce, as pay is still relatively low since the pandemic, even as Illinois rents continue to climb.
He pointed out inflation is not making things any easier.
"Those little pennies on the dollar -- once you go to the grocery store -- for a family of four that is an average of $500 every two weeks," Villaneuva observed. "That can be really detrimental for their expenses."
Although many believe exempting groceries from state sales tax bases has a progressive effect, research from the Tax Foundation suggests it is not the case. It called grocery exemptions a middle-income, not a low-income, benefit, noting middle earners can more efficiently recoup the expense through grocery tax credits.
There is always some confusion about low-tax-rate versus high-tax-rate foods, based on the state's guidelines for what qualifies as a "prepared" food product.
Villanueva covers California and Minnesota as well as Illinois, and asserted although all states tax prepared foods, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish what is considered a "prepared" food.
"The only thing that I've heard of is maybe like a service charge for service workers and food workers, but never a tax on food," Villanueva emphasized. "If something like this were to happen in Illinois, you know, it would spark the flame. It's not sustainable for a lot of states, and it's not fair."
For people located within the Illinois Regional Transportation Authority or Metro-East Mass Transit District, the 1% local tax on food was never suspended. Thirty-seven states do not tax groceries at all, and of the 13 states doing so, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas and Oklahoma provide a tax credit or rebate to offset costs for lower-income households.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
California's medical aid-in-dying law is back in court. Three patients with disabilities and two doctors are asking to intervene in a lawsuit …
A new federal jobs program aims to mobilize tens of thousands of young Americans to address the growing threats of climate change. The American …
Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago says its student body and campus are growing - and so are its options for people to study in STEM fields…
Health and Wellness
By Nathalia Teixeira for Kent State News Lab.Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration…
Maine's new Office of Affordable Health Care holds its first public hearing this week, and people are being strongly encouraged to participate…
The number of children locked behind bars in Alabama has declined, but their advocates said more needs to be done to create alternatives to …
This coming Saturday, North Dakotans will get a chance to see how election workers go to great lengths to ensure a safe and secure voting process…
Scientists at Purdue University have been experimenting to create adhesives designed to be easier on the environment. So many products from …