By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Want to repeal the tax on food in Alabama?
There’s a task force for that.
In what has quickly become Gov. Robert Bentley’s go-to move for dealing with complicated issues that are popular with voters, the Governor on Tuesday signed an executive order forming a committee to study the effects of removing the grocery sales tax.
“I’ve traveled the State, and I know that people not only want good jobs, they want to feed their families,” Bentley said. “I’d like to see this tax – this 4 percent – repealed and not replaced with any tax burdens on these working families.”
That, of course, is easier said than done.
Removing the sales tax on groceries would slice about $360 million from the Education Trust Fund. And while the ETF is in decent financial shape – especially compared to the General Fund – a nine-figure hit would be hard to sustain.
“I don’t see it as a loss,” State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, said. “These families will take that money and put it into other items, spend it on other things.”
Knight has been pushing a repeal of the food sales tax for the past 20 years, often doing so without a single vote of support from his Republican colleagues and with no hope of it passing.
It is far from a revolutionary idea at this point. At least 35 other states currently have some type of sales tax relief for food. And most of the others that do tax food then offer a tax credit for low-income families.
“This is not a liberal issue, it’s not a conservative issue, it’s a good-government issue,” said Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, who will be a member of the task force.
The task force formed by Bentley will be chaired by Alabama Department of Revenue commissioner Julie Magee. It is due to submit a report to Bentley by June 1.