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Even after the Kansas food sales tax cut, you may still be paying a lot for groceries. Here's why

You may have noticed that you're still paying way more than 4% in taxes at the grocery store despite a much-publicized cut to Kansas' sales tax on food. Above, a grocery receipt shows $8.20 in taxes on a $102 ticket, a rate of 8%.
Juliana Garcia
/
Shawnee Mission Post
You may have noticed that you're still paying way more than 4% in taxes at the grocery store despite a much-publicized cut to Kansas' sales tax on food. Above, a grocery receipt shows $8.20 in taxes on a $102 ticket, a rate of 8%.

Kansas slashed the sales tax rate on many food items from 6.5% to 4%. But some consumers have complained they’re still getting charged too much or have otherwise expressed confusion about the numbers on their receipts.

Groceries are slightly cheaper in Kansas following a food sales tax cut that went into effect Jan. 1, but you may still have questions about how much you’re paying.

The cut lowers the sales tax rate on many food items from 6.5% to 4%.

But some Kansas consumers have complained they’re still getting charged too much or have otherwise expressed confusion about the numbers on their receipts.

You may have noticed on your grocery receipt that you’re still paying well more than 4% on your purchases — and that some items are still taxed at the 6.5% rate.

Let’s try to answer some questions you may have:

The tax listed on my grocery bill was way more than 4%. Why?

While the state sales tax on food was cut from 6.5% to 4%, that’s not the only tax you get charged at checkout.

Shoppers still pay separate sales taxes on food to both the county and city they’re shopping in.

You may also pay additional sales taxes if you are shopping in areas designated Community Improvement Districts, which are aimed at incentivizing developers.

What are the sales tax rates in Johnson and Wyandotte counties?

Johnson County’s total sales tax rate is 1.475%, which is added on to the state’s sales tax.

Percentages of the county’s sales tax go towards public safety, stormwater and the Johnson County Education Research Triangle Authority.

The sales tax rate in Wyandotte County is 1%.

What is my city’s sales tax rate?

On top of the state and county sales taxes, you are also paying a sales tax to the city you’re shopping in.

Here’s a list of sales tax rates for some cities around the Kansas City metro, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue:

  • Bonner Springs — 1.75%
  • Fairway — 2%
  • Kansas City, Kansas — 1.625%
  • Leawood — 1.125%
  • Lenexa — 1.375%
  • Merriam — 1.5%
  • Mission — 1.75%
  • Olathe – 1.5%
  • Overland Park — 1.125%
  • Prairie Village — 1%
  • Shawnee — 1.625%
  • Roeland Park — 1.5%
  • Westwood — 1.5%

And what about Community Improvement Districts?

These can add additional special sales taxes on top of state, county and city taxes if you are buying groceries within the bounds of a designated CID.

CIDs are public incentive vehicles in which special sales taxes generated within a district’s boundaries help pay for the development there.

For example, Sonoma Plaza in Lenexa imposes an additional 1% sales tax, and Bluhawk in south Overland Park levies an additional half-cent sales tax.

There are numerous CIDs in Johnson County, and you can find a link to an Excel spreadsheet with a list of CIDs statewide here.

So what should my final grocery bill tax be?

It will vary slightly depending on where you are shopping at, but when you factor in state, county, city and any additional special sales taxes, don’t be surprised if you see a tax rate of 9% or higher at the bottom of your grocery bill.

What items does Kansas’ food tax cut apply to?

Food and food ingredients, which the state defines as substances sold for “ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.”

This includes produce, bottled water, candy, dietary supplements, vending machine items, soft drinks, eggs, fish, meat, poultry and more.

What items does the food tax cut not apply to?

Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and other personal items are all still taxed at the 6.5% rate.

Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and prepared food also are not eligible.

Prepared food means already heated, with two or more food ingredients combined as one or food sold with eating utensils, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.

For example, prepared food is food purchased at a restaurant or grocery store-prepared soup that might be sold at a deli inside the store.

Read up on specific scenarios in which the sales tax cut on food does and does not apply here.

This story was originally published on the Shawnee Mission Post.

Juliana Garcia is a reporter with the Shawnee Mission Post.
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