By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Washington Retail Association is supporting the Yes! to Affordable Groceries Initiative this year, or I-1634.
This is a movement that will help protect both retailers and customers alike. If approved in the fall elections, it would prohibit food taxes such as Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax that has driven up the price of juices, teas, coffee and soda.
Grocers already operate on relatively thin margins. The temptation by local governments to identify new revenue streams by taxing groceries may have unintended consequences by imposing financial burdens on retailers and customers alike.
The biggest concern is that taxing groceries may hurt people in poverty the most. At a time when our local communities are working hard to support our most vulnerable citizens, this tax seems counterintuitive. But it also puts our local retailers under additional pressure after already adjusting to rising minimum wages and various labor-related policies that inevitably drive up prices for the consumer. This is particularly important along Washington State’s southern border with Oregon, where there are no sales taxes. Anything that encourages Washington residents to shop in Oregon to save on sales taxes has the potential to hurt our state and threaten retail jobs here at home.
In accompanying stories in this newsletter, you’ll read about how grocers in Vancouver are organizing in support of I-1634.
Opposition to raising food taxes is not limited to Washington State. The Washington Policy Center reports on successful opposition legislation in California, Arizona and Michigan that prevents local governments from imposing grocery taxes.
Please join us in supporting I-1634 so that retailers and consumers in communities around the state will not have to deal with the threat of higher prices and expenses for their groceries.