Even after 4 years I am still not used to tax on food here in ID. I have never lived in a state that taxes food. When we lived in MN we didn't have sales tax on clothes or shoes either, but that is another issue. It is particularly frustrating when I have coupons, I have to pay tax on the regular price. We even have to pay tax on food bought at the farmer's market. The "bonus" is that at tax time, ID refunds $100 per person for state residents.
I have kept track of how much taxes we pay on groceries the past few years. It does take a little while to separate food from non-food on my receipts. I have been very curious if the $100 per person is reasonable or not. Also I'm curious how much we really spend to feed our family, I don't want to count TP and laundry soap etc. in that total. So I am willing to spend a few minutes figuring out my receipts after shopping. Usually it comes out just about even, what we pay for food tax and getting $500 back for our 5 family members. Usually we get about $50 back more than we spend on food tax.
This morning we received our completed taxes and for the first time we owed some ID taxes. Last year we spent $444 on food tax. Because we owed some ID taxes this year, we only got $405 ID refund. So this year we lost some money on the deal. Since I just received the taxes, I'm going to have to study them to see why we owed more than previous years.
We are a non-traditional family. We rarely eat out. Our boys are homeschooled so they are not eating one meal at school. Ram comes home for lunch every day except a once a month meeting. We don't buy a lot of processed foods. So the food we buy and is taxed on is for all the meals for our family, but it is mostly basics of fruit, vegetables, meat, a few grains, and a little dairy or non-dairy milk. So $100 per person would be reasonable if we were not home for one meal a day. But because we are here for all meals, it's not quite enough. I also don't think it would be enough if we bought more processed foods like the typical family.
As a small state, Idaho doesn't have some of the benefits that we had in the Midwest either. So living here means paying a lot of taxes and not getting as many benefits. Thank God if you live in a state that doesn't tax food.
This also means that I am going to try harder to reduce our food budget this year. There is not a lot that we can cut in this area since we mostly buy basics. I also know that using coupons in ID does not always mean less of a sales tax charge. But there is always a way to tweak your spending a little and a little each grocery trip adds up. If we spend less on groceries it will also mean less on grocery sales tax.