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February 13, 2023

Bill Closes Corporate Tax Loophole to Boost Food Assistance and Small Businesses

DENVER, CO - The House Finance Committee today passed legislation to close tax loopholes that allow wealthy corporations to deduct business meal and drink expenses from their taxable income in order to expand access to healthy foods in lower-income and under-served communities and help small food retailers and small family farms. It passed by a vote of 7-4.

“Everyday Coloradans don’t get a tax break on their lunches, and neither should wealthy corporations,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D- Aurora. “Hard-working Coloradans are pinching pennies to feed their families while CEOs get a tax break on their ‘three martini’ lunches. One in three adults living with children have reported skipping meals or eating smaller portions so their kids have enough food to eat. This bill would close this tax loophole and use the savings to provide food assistance to under-served communities and support our local farmers and food producers.”

Currently, Colorado taxpayers collectively cover the cost of the “business meals deduction” because state tax deductions are linked to federal tax deductions.  HB23-1008 would “decouple” from these federal income tax deductions, ending the resulting state tax loophole that allows wealthy corporations to deduct business meal expenses from their taxes. Ending these tax deductions would create revenue to reduce food insecurity for hard-working Coloradans and fund a tax credit to help our local farmers and food retailers access necessary equipment and better access market opportunities.

This bill builds off bipartisan legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2022 to save Coloradans money on healthy foods. It allocates $1 million annually to the Healthy Food Incentive Fund, which provides healthy eating incentives for low-income Coloradans and makes it easier for these communities to access fresh, local fruits and vegetables.  The fund created by the 2022 legislation supports programs including the Community Nutrition Incentive Program, which assists women, children, and older Coloradans in subscribing to weekly produce deliveries from a local farm; the Double Up Food Bucks Program, which doubles the value of SNAP benefits in participating markets and stores for fruits and vegetables; and the Community Food Access program, which allows more small retailers to acquire equipment to store and sell produce and supports small family farms in connecting their crops to market demand.

HB23-1008 also creates an income tax credit for small food retailers and small family farms to cover 75% of the cost of new systems and equipment. Partnering with Colorado farms and food producers boosts revenue and cycles money into local economies. The Double Up Food Bucks Program provides a 2.5% economic multiplier, putting more money into the pockets of Colorado farmers and the local agricultural industry and expanding access to healthy foods. Increased subscriptions means that local farmers can afford to expand their operations, grow varied produce, and improve farming equipment.

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