This just in from the Colorado House Republican communications office: The “Pizza Box Tax” isn’t going away anytime soon — despite the best efforts of state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, to stick a fork in it.
Van Winkle’s House Bill 1009 died what probably was an expected death — given the GOP’s minority status — on a party-line vote at the hands of ruling House Democrats in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Commiittee. Yes, that would be the “kill committee.”
The upshot is Colorado consumers will continue to pay what amounts to a back-door tax on a lot of those extras they thought they’d been getting for free with their Personal Pan Pizzas and their kids’ Happy Meals. Like, the containers those meals are served in.
Bet you didn’t know (and neither did we) that all those food retailers pay sales and use tax when they buy the pizza boxes, napkins, sporks and cups they use to package your meal. Inevitably, they pass at least some of the cost of those items on to their customers even though there’s no up-front charge for them. Either that, or those businesses just swallow the extra cost, Republicans say.
Before 2010, that stuff was tax-exempt, but a much-debated package of wide-ranging tax increases — the GOP called them the “dirty dozen” — adopted by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly that year and signed into law by former Gov. Bill Ritter narrowed the exemption. And it left it up to the Department of Revenue to decide just how narrow that exemption would be.
The Republicans have been railing ever since against the entire 2010 tax package, and today’s unsuccessful effort by Van Winkle to roll back what his party dubbed the pizza-box tax was another attempt to chip away, modestly, at the state’s total take.
Here’s Van Winkle, as quoted in a House GOP press release:
“Restaurants and food providers must maintain competitive prices, and cannot simply recover these additional taxes with price increases that can compromise their ability to stay open,” said Van Winkle. “Taxes on items like bags, straws, containers, pizza boxes, napkins and condiments add thousands of dollars of overhead to businesses that are already operating with razor thin margins, and unfortunately today, Democrats turned their back on the business community in Colorado.”