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Border & Immigration

Tijuana Consumers Start Paying Tax On Ready-Made Food

Ready-made food at the Mexican convenience store Oxxo in Tijuana, July 3, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
Ready-made food at the Mexican convenience store Oxxo in Tijuana, July 3, 2015.

Starting this month, consumers south of the border must pay a 16 percent sales tax on pre-packaged and ready-made food sold at convenience stores.

Food like pizza, hotdogs, sandwiches and burritos just got more expensive in Mexico.

The nationwide tax is Mexico’s latest move to rein in high obesity rates. In 2013, Mexico’s Congress approved separate taxes on sugary drinks and junk food.

The ready-made food tax is expected to have a disproportionate impact on Mexican border residents because of last year’s general sales tax hike for the region from 11 percent to 16 percent.

Gilberto Leyva Camacho, president of Tijuana’s Chamber of Commerce, said that sales tax didn’t go into effect for ready-made food at convenience stores until Wednesday.

“The people who are most going to be hurt by this are low-income consumers,” he said. “Many who are in a rush often buy a hotdog or a hamburger.”

Camacho said he thinks the sales tax is going to promote Mexico’s informal economy, because the tax doesn’t apply to mobile street food vendors who sell the same food.

He added that the tax is expected to increase border crossings to San Diego, as Tijuana residents may prefer to buy this food where it’s cheaper.

Ramon Diaz is a 39-year-old Tijuana merchant who often eats food from Oxxo because it’s quick and he works full-time.

“Because of time issues. I’m racing around,” he said.

He said he thinks the tax is going to make things difficult for him.

“It affects me a lot because I don’t have anyone to make me food. So I have to buy burritos, hamburgers and sandwiches in convenience stores,” he said.