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Opinion | Now is the time to remove Alabama’s grocery tax

This is a regressive tax, which disproportionately affects those with lower income.

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Daily, grocers witness hardworking Alabamians unable to purchase the food that they need. Despite wages increasing significantly over the last several years, the rising cost of food has outpaced all other household expenses except transportation. Factors including the labor shortage, supply chain disruptions, energy prices, severe weather events, and the war in Ukraine have all contributed to these rising prices. Most recently, the avian flu has caused havoc in the egg and poultry industry.

Alabama is one of only three states in the nation that does not reduce the sales tax on food, and two of our bordering states, Florida and Georgia, do not tax groceries. Across the state if you add in the city and county tax, food tax averages between 9-11%. This is a regressive tax, which disproportionately affects those with lower income. We know that states with the highest grocery tax rates also tend to be the states with the highest rate of food insecurity.

The average family of four spends $1,000 per month on food at minimum. Cutting the 4% state grocery tax would give each family an extra $40 per month or $480 per year. That is significant. It could mean the difference between having to choose between your prescription co-pay and enough food to feed your family.

No one wants to take additional resources away from the Education Trust Fund that supports Alabama’s school system. However, with Alabama’s budgets experiencing record growth and the EFT revenue growing steadily over the last 9 years, it is time to act on removing the grocery tax. Studies published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry show that hunger greatly impacts a child’s performance and behavior in school. Hungry children have lower math scores. They are also more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss it entirely due to illness.

We commend the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth and his commitment to removing this burdensome tax.

I urge all Alabamians to contact their legislators and let them know that the hardworking folks here in Alabama deserve the removal of the sales tax on groceries.

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