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The Arizona Republic reports that the Phoenix City Council has voted to impose a two percent sales tax on food items that include on milk, meat, vegetables and other edibles, the first time since the early eighties that such products have been taxable within the city limits.

According to the story, the tax is designed to “generate an estimated $12.5 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30. It will raise another $50 million for fiscal 2011. Food purchased with food stamps will not be taxed.

“The extra tax revenue means Phoenix will have more money in its coffers to help close a $241 million general-fund budget deficit through June 2011. Last week, budget officials proposed cutting $140 million in services. Other special funds for things like transit also could get money.”

The story also notes that “Phoenix shoppers who buy paper towels, toothpaste and other non-food items at a grocery store already pay an 8.3 percent sales tax, 2 percent of which goes to the city ... After Tuesday's vote, Mesa and Surprise are the only Valley cities that do not tax food items, though Surprise is eyeing a 1 percent food tax.”

The new food tax is not designed to be permanent - it will expire in five years.
KC's View:
To be fair, the vote wasn’t unanimous. And there are still folks on the City Council who are pushing for public hearings on the subject, hoping they can get a re-vote if there is enough public hysteria in the streets in Phoenix.

Which there will be. Because nobody wants to pay more taxes. Though if my house is burning down, extra taxes that pay to keep fire houses open and firefighters employed might seem like a decent investment.

(This will probably lead to a plethora of emails accusing me of being a typical pro-tax liberal member of the media elite. All I am saying here is that given a choice, I’m against my house burning down.)