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Oregon Voters Could Ban Taxes on Groceries

by Countable | 10.29.18

What the Initiative Does

Measure 103 would amend the Oregon Constitution to prohibit the enactment or increase of any state or local tax, fee, or assessment on the sale of groceries. The ban would apply retroactively to any taxes put in place on or after October 1, 2017. Groceries would be defined as “raw or processed food or beverages intended for human consumption” excluding alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco ― language which would preclude local taxes on sugary drinks.

Currently, Oregon doesn’t have a statewide sales tax (including on groceries) but there is no law prohibiting local governments from establishing such a tax.

In Favor

Taxes on groceries hit those who can least afford it the hardest, like seniors, low-income households, and military families. Oregon’s Constitution should prohibit the enactment of taxes on groceries.


Amending Oregon’s Constitution to prohibit a tax on groceries ― which isn’t a policy that’s being advocated for right now ― is a risky proposition that could make it harder for future legislatures to collect more revenue.


A group known as Vote Yes On Measure 103; Keep Our Groceries Tax Free is campaigning in favor of the constitutional ban on grocery taxes:

“A tax on groceries is unfair and regressive and hits those who can least afford it, like seniors, low-income households and military families. We need to permanently protect groceries from being taxed. By voting Yes on Measure 103 you will be supporting the initative to permanently block the politicians from taxing our groceries without specific voter approval.”

A group known as Defend Oregon is campaigning against the prohibition on grocery taxes:

“Constitutional Amendment 103 is risky and unnecessary. Supporters claim it’s meant to keep groceries tax free, but there is no tax on groceries and no one is proposing one. The measure is retroactive and so misleading and poorly-written that it would have many unintended consequences that harm Oregon families.”

The state of Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax but two cities ― Ashland and Yachats ― charge a sales tax on prepared food and non-alcoholic drinks, while other local governments have debated taxes on sugary products.

Measure 103 made it on the Oregon ballot after supporters submitted more than 121,000 valid signatures, exceeding the required 117,578 signatures.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: / Steve Debenport)


Written by Countable

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