Food and beverage tax dies again

A proposal that would have allowed communities to charge an added tax on meals out has failed again.

State Rep. Woody Burton, a Republican who represents Johnson County, had proposed legislation that would have allowed cities and towns to adopt their own local food and beverage tax to raise money for local services.

The proposal was partly in response to a repeated request from the city of Greenwood, to allow them to charge a local food and beverage tax to bring in more money for police services, Burton said.

He wanted to make sure that other governments also had that option, since currently, a community can ask for legislation to get their own tax, but it only applies to that community. Burton’s proposal was for any city or town in the state to approve their own tax if they chose to.

“It is a fairness issue,” Burton said.

But the proposal never got a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee and won’t move forward this session, unless a lawmaker chooses to attach it to another piece of legislation.

Burton said he thinks the proposal failed because of multiple other issues, including potential tax increases for road funding, that state lawmakers are considering this year.

He isn’t sure he will propose the tax increase again, he said.

Burton wants to see if other options could be used to help bring in more funding for local governments, especially for police services since many communities are facing issues due to drug addiction, he said.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would give more funding to local governments for road work. And the rebound of property values is also helping bring in more money in property taxes, which could also be a help to local governments, he said.

For Greenwood, this is at least the fourth year that the proposal has not been approved by state lawmakers.

Officials have been asking to be allowed to charge an added 1 percent tax on meals out and prepared meals, which would bring more money in locally to pay for services, such as police officers.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.