I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Posts Tagged Corporate Income Tax
Officials in the Martinez administration say they are considering cutting taxes on small business gross receipts and corporate income as a means of creating jobs in the state.
New Mexico is hurting financially, no doubt. Unemployment is at a 22-year high. Tax revenues that pay for services are way down. But apparently things could be worse.
Stock up on white flour tortillas and red chile pods now. The New Mexico Senate voted late Saturday night to extend the state’s gross receipts tax on a wide variety of foods after a wide-ranging debate that included attempts to raise taxes from the state’s wealthiest residents and out-of-state corporations.
Brought forward by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, the food tax passed on a vote of 23 to 19. The measure exempts foods offered through the state’s nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as the WIC program, plus fresh or frozen meats, poultry and chicken. But it also taxes many foods considered staples, like white flour tortillas, white bread and red chile pods.
“It helps prevent additional cuts to Medicaid, to courts, to seniors…and hopefully it’ll eventually have a health benefit by reducing obesity and diabetes,” Sanchez said.
But Sen. Cisco McSorley said consumers wouldn’t know which products would be taxed and which wouldn’t be, and, he said, a wide variety of foods would not be exempt.
“For the last five years, this state has enjoyed a tax free Thanksgiving,” McSorley said, “and that’s something to be thankful for. But if you look at a butterball turkey, spices and preservatives are built into it, so would it be taxed?”
Sanchez replied that the intent was to exempt meats, poultry and fish with limited amounts of added ingredients, and that the Tax and Revenue Department was working out the details.
Two amendments specifically concerning the food tax bill were offered. Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, proposed exempting red chile pods and powder. Sen. Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, meanwhile, suggested taxing all food, while offering a food rebate for low-income families. His proposal would reduce the complexity of the tax, he said, while making it more progressive by offering an outright tax rebate to the poor. Both amendments failed.
McSorley explained in voting no on Griego’s amendment that he had promised his constituents he would never vote for a food tax. Another progressive senator defended Sanchez’s legislation.
“I came into this session thinking I’d never vote for a food tax, but I realized this could be the biggest boon to health in NM,” said Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque. “This is a tax on salt, sugar, white flour and processed foods. …[when] over 60 percent of New Mexicans are overweight or obese. Mothers will be cooking more and cooking from scratch. That is a good thing.”
The food tax legislation received vigorous opposition in the lead up to the final floor debate by the Catholic Church in a particular. Billed a “tortilla tax,” the legislation was blasted for taxing white tortillas, which are a staple food in New Mexico.
“WIC is designed to provide supplemental funding for food with an extensive education to accompany it,” Allen Sanchez, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said immediately after the legislation was adopted.
“Without education the working poor will not be able to navigate the grocery story knowing what is taxed and is not taxed. This bill deliberately targets the poor and the Catholic bishops of New Mexico find this bill to be in direct contradiction to the Gospel values.”
Other tax measures
The food tax passed despite multiple amendments offered by several lawmakers who hoped to raise revenues in a variety of other ways.
“This is about asking the richest people to step up to the plate,” Sen. Eric Griego said of an unsuccessful amendment that would have raised the top income tax rate in the state.
Another amendment offered by Griego reduced the capital gains exemption from 50 to 25 percent.
“There are 15 to 20 proposals that have been circulated to help us raise the revenue we need,” Griego said to explain why he offered the two amendments on the food tax bill. “This is the only vehicle we have to have a balanced conversation, because most haven’t seen the light of day.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “we’re just balancing the budget on the backs of teachers, …instead of asking the rich and wealthy to pay their fair share.”
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, proposed an amendment that would have mandated that multi-state corporations use a mechanism called “combined reporting,” which would ensure they pay corporate income tax to New Mexico. Wirth has proposed the bill for five years in a row, but in years past was routinely told that while the idea was a good one, the state didn’t need the money. Now it does, he said, which was why he thought it was important to ensure a floor debate.
“I was told for years that it’s a good deal, but we don’t need the money,” Wirth said. “Now, we need the money. It’s about fairness. It doesn’t apply a new tax rate, it simply makes these multi-state corporations pay their fair share.”
Ultimately, neither Wirth’s or Griego’s two amendments were adopted.
Votes for and against the food tax, SB 10:
For: Campos, Cisneros, Eichenberg, Feldman, Fischmann, Phil Griego, Ingle, Jennings, Kernan, Leavell, Martinez, Morales, Munoz, Ortiz y Pino, Papen, Pinto, B. Sanchez, M. Sanchez, Sapien, Smith, Ulibarri, Beffert, Harden.
Against: Adair, Asbill, Boitano, Cravens, Duran, Garcia, Eric Griego, Keller, Lopez, Lovejoy, McSorley, Payne, Rue, Ryan, Sharer, Wirth, Nava, Neville, Rodriguez