To tax or not to tax groceries, that is the question


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There are dozens of groups you might think would support Measure 103, the ballot proposal to make sure there is no sales tax on food. But they’re against it.

The biggest supporters of Measure 103 are some major grocery store chains, spending big money to get voters to say “Yes” to banning government leaders from approving a sales tax on food you buy at the store.

If approved, Measure 103 locks a sales tax ban into the Oregon state Constitution. That couldn’t be changed without voter approval. 

Oregon Measure 103, the Ban Tax on Groceries Initiative, is on the ballot in Oregon as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018.
A yes vote supports this amendment to prohibit state and local governments from enacting taxes on groceries.
A no vote opposes this amendment, thus retaining the authority of state and local governments to enact taxes on groceries.
Information from Ballotpedia

Among the supporters such as grocery stores and chambers of commerce is the Sunshine Division in Portland, which provides food and clothing to those in need.

Kyle Camberg, the executive director of the Sunshine Division, September 18, 2018 (KOIN)

“Anything that can create a greater barrier, when I have seen we’re at a tipping point, where tens of thousands of families are struggling, we’re not in favor of that possibility,” said Kyle Camberg, the executive director of the Sunshine Division

But opponents to Measure 103 are lined up as well. 

“We don’t have a sales tax on groceries,” said retired business executive John Calhoun. “No one is talking about putting a sales tax on groceries.”

Retired business executive John Calhoun, September 18, 2018 (KOIN)

Dozens of groups with the No on Measure 103 campaign — from AARP to the NAACP of Portland — are not in favor of a sales tax, either.

But they say the measure is more than a sales tax ban, that it would also exempt grocery businesses from increases in one type of state tax — the Corporate Minimum Tax.

“They’re trying to prevent themselves from seeing any changes going forward,” Calhoun said.

Both sides are now on-the-air with TV ads. Measure 103 is now getting a lot of attention as voters begin to tune in to the mid-term elections now 7 weeks away.

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