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Group calls for Utah to end sales tax on grocery food

SALT LAKE CITY – A group of religious leaders, Democratic lawmakers and advocates gathered in Salt Lake City Wednesday afternoon to call for an end to Utah’s sales tax on grocery food.

“The Coalition of Religious Communities is here today to say that the amount of state taxes prescribed on groceries should be zero,” said Rev. Kimal James of the Ogden First United Methodist Church.

The speakers said that the tax burdens low-income families and emphasized that Utah is one of only about a dozen states to charge a sales tax on unprepared food.

“Families who are hurt most by this unfair are the working poor and families with fixed incomes,” said Rev. Vinnetta Golphin-Wilkerson of the Granger Community Christian Church.

Utah collects a 1.75% sales tax on grocery store food, which is lower than the standard sales tax of 4.85%


The group said with Utah’s economy doing so well and a budget surplus expected that it’s the right time to eliminate the tax.

“We’re asking our neighbors who represent us in the state legislature to do the right thing,” said Golphin-Wilkerson. “Do the right thing. Stop this tax on food. Do the right thing for Utah families.”

Democratic lawmakers who joined the press conference said they support a bill that Rep. Rosemary Lesser, D-Ogden, is sponsoring to get rid of the tax.

(KSL TV)

“You hear the Utah Legislature talk all the time about reducing taxes, making it easier for Utah families. Well, now we have an opportunity to do just that,” said Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City.

In an opinion article in the Deseret News, Lesser wrote that Utah currently brings in around $149 million from the food sales tax and that the state can afford to let families keep that money.

She also wrote that her bill only targets eliminating the state tax on grocery food, not other taxes imposed by cities and counties.


Jatessa Whittaker, a mother of five who works as a grocery store cashier, attended the press conference. She said she supports doing away with the tax because it will allow families to purchase more food.

“I see a lot of people who come in and try to buy stuff and they see it’s too much and they put it away and they’re sad or they tell their kids, ‘No, we can’t get this today,’” Whittaker said.

KSL 5 TV Live

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