Support grows to repeal Alabama’s state grocery tax

Alabama is one of only three states that still fully taxes all grocery sales
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:00 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Cheaper food prices are closer to reality in 2023 for Alabama residents as more state leaders get on board with the idea of repealing the state’s 4% tax on groceries.

Calls to repeal the grocery tax have made their way into legislative sessions for years, but have never passed.

Alabama’s Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth is the newest supporter of repeal, however. Inflation is the main reason more people are on board to repeal the grocery tax and because there is a $3 billion surplus in the state’s education budget.

Repealing the grocery tax could mean taxpayers won’t get the $400-$800 income tax rebate recently proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey during her state of the state address.

“I think it’d be hard for us to do both, said state Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Cherokee County, “particularly this year, you know, in one given year.”

Repealing the sales tax on groceries seems to be the favorite choice on both sides of the political aisle.

Ainsworth released a statement that says, “claiming we cannot sustain the loss in revenues that would result from a grocery tax repeal defies simple arithmetic, violates basic common sense, and opposes the conservative beliefs and values that guide the vast majority of Alabamians.”

“We would support a complete repeal of the state grocery tax,” said Jamie Harding with Alabama AARP.

“We would like to see some form of replacement revenue to support education,” added Robyn Hyden with Alabama Arise.

Following Ainsworth’s support for the repeal measure, ALGOP Chairman John Wahl praised the stance.

“It’s time to give hard working Alabamians a break. With the cost of living continuing to rise, I am seriously concerned about people’s ability to adequately provide for their families and keep their heads above water,” Wahl said. “Alabama is one of only three states that still fully tax all grocery sales, and I think this is an excellent starting point in relieving the tax burden on our citizens.”

There is debate over how the state would compensate for the revenue, which partially funds the education budget. Jones says he will again file a bill to repeal the grocery tax and ensure money still goes to the education trust fund.’

“Criticism I’ve heard on our bill is it’s a Robin Hood bill,” said Jones, whose bill would limit the deductions Alabamians can claim on their income tax returns and send that money to the education budget.

“I see it as closing a loophole that should never have been put in place in the first place to help pay for the grocery tax,” Jones explained.

Jones’ bill would repeal the grocery tax on food items people can currently buy with food stamps. That excludes alcoholic beverages. There is another option that would repeal the tax on food items eligible under the WIC program, which is a smaller selection. Both proposals are expected to be debated when lawmakers return from spring break on April 4.

Asked about her support for repealing the grocery tax, the governor said she is “committed to providing relief for our Alabama families. And is always open to ideas, discussions, and solutions to help the people of our state.”

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