PROPOSED BILL OFFERS MUNICIPALITIES POWER OVER GROCERY SALES TAX

Alabama Politics

Tuscaloosa’s own Alabama Rep. Chris England is working toward giving taxpayers a break at the grocery store.

England’s House Bill 42 would give municipalities the authority to reduce or nix their sales tax on groceries. It’s a move that’s been up for discussion among lawmakers for years, England said, and Alabama is one of the few states still fully taxing food, clothing and shelter.

But it’s not the first bill England has proposed regarding sales taxes. In fact, England was the sponsor of a bill that would have removed the grocery tax in the city of Tuscaloosa, which was a prime component of Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s Elevate Tuscaloosa plan.

“Once we discovered that we couldn’t (have it) as a local bill, I introduced it as a statewide bill,” England said. “I thought it would be a good thing for many cities to consider, if they can afford it, to remove their sales tax on groceries.”

One of the major hurdles this bill faces, though, is taxing that tax away means millions of dollars less for Alabama’s general fund with no immediate replacement.

Currently, Alabama law does not let municipalities reduce or exempt sales tax for items outside statewide tax-free weekend events.

The proposed bill follows the same definition of “food” as Alabama’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“Foods people purchase with their benefits already don’t have taxes,” England said. “But (SNAP users) will get a tax break on whatever else they purchase that does not follow under that definition.”

Items included in SNAP’s definition of “food” are items like bread, cereal, bottled water or soda, fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, infant food and formula and other food staples like canned soups or boxed macaroni and cheese. It does not include hot food or non-food items like toiletries or diapers.

 

Mom Jade Nicole said she believes the proposed bill could be a big help for those who don’t have much of an income.

“As a single parent, there were times where I struggled,” she said. “Just having that bit of assistance. Honestly, it sounds crazy but it could really catapult other areas of the local economy because saving here is money that can be spent somewhere else or saved.”

Next week, England begins pushing the bill in the legislature. Alabama Sen. Bobby Singleton is pushing the same bill in the Alabama Senate.

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