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Local grocery shoppers sign tax referendum petition

Posted at 8:26 PM, Jan 11, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the state’s largest grocery store chains is joining the fight against Utah’s revised tax code.

Harmons Neighborhood Grocer is allowing volunteers with the Utah Tax Referendum group to collect petition signatures.

The group needs about 115,000 signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.

“It’s going to take everybody coming together,” said Kyle Green, a volunteer with the Utah Tax Referendum. “We are being very thorough with our process.”

If the referendum gets on the ballot, voters will have the chance to decide if the revised tax code should remain in place or send the legislature back to the drawing board.

“This is a non-partisan movement,” Green said. “We have everyone from Republicans to Democrats to Libertarians.”

Many people took breaks from their weekend shopping to contribute their signature.

“[The revised tax code] doesn’t do anything for 99 percent of us,” said Paul Engberson, a supporter of the referendum. “I like food with my meal. Being able to afford food, to tax that, I think we are going in the wrong direction.”

Legislators who support the new tax law believe it benefits taxpayers by giving everyone an income tax cut, despite the increased tax on groceries, gas and services.

Those against the increased sales tax on food don’t see it that way.

“I feel like this is very wrong,” Engberson said.

The referendum volunteers have until Tuesday, January 21 to collect the required number of signatures. Those giving their time at the City Creek Harmons location implored people to spread the word about their cause.

“Tell it to your university people. Tell them to get down, find the places where they can sign the petition,” one volunteer told a supporter.

With thousands more signatures needed before the deadline, volunteers realize they have an uphill climb, but they have no intention of backing down from their cause.

“[The revised tax code] is going to hurt them in their day-to-day lives,” Green said.