With tight budgets abounding, Utah lawmakers are considering increasing taxes on food. That article doesn’t go into great detail about what the increased revenue would be used for, but it does quote state senator John Valentine as saying that it’s needed to provide services for low income individuals.
Those individuals would also get a tax credit to avoid suffering from the tax hike:
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, is proposing targeted relief for low-income Utahns through a refundable credit to help defray the cost of groceries for the state’s poor and a refundable income tax credit for its low-income workers.
The article has more information on the credit, though it sounds sufficiently convoluted from the quote that a lot of people probably wouldn’t take advantage of it.
But in any case, it’s a curious situation because food is far from the only thing that could be subjected to higher taxes. For example, this Atlantic Cities article explores the possibility of increasing fuel taxes.
The article notes that increasing fuel taxes can be “political poison.” It also argues that rather than framing the issue as a tax increase, it should be framed as an end of the gas sale:
[…] instead of framing the gas tax discussion as a sudden “increase,” it seems just as accurate to say that the big sale on gasoline that’s been going on for years is finally ending. For sure, lawmakers must address the regressive impact of new fuel charges; the I.T.E.P. recommends low-income tax credits as one mitigating tool. They might also do well to address the view that what they’re asking for isn’t to raise taxes on transportation at all — it’s to finally collect them.
The interesting thing here is that these articles offer two possibilities for raising revenues. One option would raise money while de-incentivizing driving — an environmentally destructive activity for which there are alternatives — while the other would simply make food more expensive. The situation in Utah isn’t an “either-or” right now, but the point is just that it’d be better to raise taxes on harmful activities like driving than directly on food.