Why are so many Kansans buying groceries in Missouri?

Groceries Healthy Eating

You might think that because Kansas is known as the “bread basket” of the nation, its people don’t have to worry about being able to afford their food. However, unlike every single one of its neighboring states, Kansas has not reduced or fully exempted groceries from its state sales tax rate.

Consequently, Kansas now has the highest sales tax rate in the nation on food.

In 2015, we were second to Mississippi, but when the Kansas legislature raised the state sales tax rate from 6.1 to 6.5 percent last session, we secured the infamous title of number one in the nation. While Mississippi’s statewide rate is 7 percent, they have very limited local sales taxes. Our combined statewide and local sales tax rate moves Kansas ahead of Mississippi. In some places, Kansans pay as much as 10% in taxes on their groceries.

Is it a coincidence that our health rankings are pretty dismal?

  • Kansas has significantly declined in public health over last 25 years – falling from as high as 8th to as low as 27th healthiest state in the nation. (America’s Health Rankings Report)
  • We are 45th in the nation in fruit and vegetable consumption. (CDC)

Our high sales tax rate on food not only impacts Kansans’ health by causing them to purchase cheaper and less nutritious items, it also produces a negative economic impact on families and rural grocery stores.

The high sales tax rate places an unfair burden on low-income families, hurts rural grocers and their employees, and drives shoppers across state lines to buy food.

Groceries should be more affordable in Kansas. Food is not a luxury item, and taxing it as such has negative impacts on the health of both Kansas businesses and families.


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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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