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Increase the Aspen food tax refund

Dear Editor:

The City of Aspen Food Sales Tax Refund was created in 1970 at a time when the city sales tax was 1 percent and many other municipalities exempted food sales from local sales tax. In 1970, the refund was $7 per qualifying resident. The refund was increased to $21 in 1972, $39 in 1981 and to the present $50 per qualifying resident way back in 1998 (effective 1999-2000). Since 1970, the city sales tax rate has more than doubled to 2.1 percent, and I think most would agree the cost of groceries has gone up. Since 2000, the Consumer Price Index for Colorado has risen nearly 25 percent, Aspen’s property tax and sales tax collections have more than doubled, and the city’s annual budgets have risen even more.

Against this background, the City of Aspen Food Sales Tax Refund remains stubbornly at the level established in 1998. A “Food Sales Tax Refund” should track with escalation of food cost and sales tax changes. I appreciate the Food Tax Refund, but our city council is long overdue in adjusting it. Just as various city fees understandably have risen with inflation of costs, refunds should track underlying costs, and in this case revenues. It is time for Aspen to be true to the intent of this legislation and adjust the Food Sales Tax Refund to track with increases in food costs and city sales tax rates.

Mike Maple

Aspen


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