SANTA FE (KRQE) - A trip to the grocery store could cost a little more if one New Mexico group has its way.
They want to bring back sales taxes on food, and they're asking state lawmakers to make it happen.
Right now, the state is paying cities so they don't have to tax some food purchases. That funding is set to run out over time, though, which is why one group says it's time to bring that food tax back.
The New Mexico Municipal League wants to bring back a food tax. It was taken off the table almost a decade ago.
“That happened in 2004, and when they took the tax off of food, we said to them we couldn't afford to lose that much revenue out of our tax base,” Bill Fulginiti with the New Mexico Municipal League said.
To make up for the difference, Fulginiti says the state gives cities money matching what the tax would've brought in. Soon, that money is going away.
“On July 1, 2015, we'll see the first decrease over a 15-year period,” Fulginiti said.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a tax package this year to slowly do away with the funding, and it's why Fulginiti says the food tax needs to come back.
He also argues it would cost less in the long run than raising taxes elsewhere.
On the other side of the issue, Fred Nathan with Think New Mexico says it would mean more stress on families.
“Re-imposing the tax on fruits, vegetables, baby food and other groceries would hurt families and be very damaging to New Mexico's economy,” Nathan said.
Nathan says bringing back a food tax is a step backwards and that only two other states still use it. He also says it discriminates against large families and lower-income families.
“Ultimately, this will be self-defeating because they won’t be able to buy other goods and necessities and those tax receipts will go down,” Nathan said.
This isn't the first time the food tax caught people's attention.
In 2010, lawmakers approved a deal that would've taxed most food items. It was given the nickname the “tortilla tax" and was vetoed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson.
Fulginiti says many local governments are on board with his plan. He's hoping state lawmakers agree with him.
But the governor is said to be against the food sales tax.
Since this funding will be going away, cities are allowed a small increase of gross receipt taxes. Think New Mexico says Corrales and Las Cruces have already acted on it.
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