Spin Control

Is candy tax unfair to people with medical conditions?

OLYMPIA -- Monday's post about the taxable and tax-exempt sweets starting June 1 generated some interesting queries from readers.

One wrote to say his daughter has Type 1 diabetes, and she takes candy on a daily basis to treat her hypoglycemia. Would candy that's taken for medical reasons be exempt?

Another called to say that people with celiac disease can't digest grain flours, so a rule is discriminatory that doesn't levy the tax on sweets made with grain flours -- licorice is in many of the items on the exempt list -- because they're classified as food under the National Streamline Sales Tax System. Shouldn't they be able to have tax exempt candy?

Interesting issues, because when the Legislature extended the sales tax to bottled water, it exempted those people who have a prescription for bottled water for medical purposes. And prescription drugs remain free of the sales tax.

But even though the sales tax extention to candy is in the same section as the sales tax extension to bottled water, there's no language that exempts candy for medical purposes.

Without that language, the Department of Revenue can't extend the exemption administratively, Mike Gowrylow, a department spokesman, said. It would have to be authorized by the Legislature at some future date.

Kind of makes you wonder if the Legislature had had some honest to gosh public hearings on the tax bill during the special session, as opposed to shuttling proposals back and forth between the Senate back offices and the House back offices, would someone have pointed out that inconsistency. Guess we'll never know.




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