Regardless of what they’re called - grocery taxes, sugar taxes, soda taxes or meal taxes - taxes on common grocery items all have one thing in common: they are regressive. These taxes disproportionally affect low-income families who already spend a higher percentage of their income on food and beverages. And according to a new paper out of Auburn University, for these families a few extra cents here and there can add up to higher rates of hunger.
Consumer economics professor Norbert Wilson and his colleagues explain, “The lowest-income Americans spend an average of $3,667 on food each year, amounting to 34 percent of their average income, according to the USDA.” In comparison, middle income families spend about 13 percent of their income on food.
This means that when it comes time for a parent to purchase groceries to feed their family, a few additional dollars in taxes can impact what and how much they purchase. Low-income families struggling to make ends meet, shouldn’t have to worry about higher prices at the grocery store because of these regressive taxes.
In some cases, many families will even go outside their city or state to shop for groceries in order to avoid paying the tax, which also hurts the small, local businesses that rely on small profit margins to stay in business.
The bottom line is that even a one-cent per ounce tax can have an impact on low-income families and ultimately their ability to live a balanced lifestyle.
Click here to read the full paper.