Food tax will remain

Published 2:12 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
If the Alabama Senate members follow House members, there could be a reduction in sales tax on groceries.
According to a recent poll in The Brewton Standard, 84 percent of those responding say they support the state's plan to abolish sales tax on food items.
However, citizens should be aware a state change might not be a total dismissal of sales tax on grocery items in a given area.
City and county governments mandate sales tax generated on items sold within their area of operations.
Jennings said the city would have the option of keeping the city sales tax in place even if the state portion is abolished.
East Brewton residents would be bound by the same sales tax scenario in that city.
David Stokes, Escambia County Commission chairman, said the county shouldn't be affected much by the proposed change.
“There are not that many grocery stores in unincorporated areas that would see a change if this bill passes,” Stokes said. “County sales tax on grocery items will continue to be collected as it has been throughout the county.”
Although officials in Montgomery are still considering the bill, this isn't the first time it has been put up for discussion, Stokes said.
The bill is an amendment to the Alabama constitution and must be voted in or out by the people of Alabama. That vote could take place in November if the bill is approved in the Senate.
The Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill on April 15, introduced by Rep. John Knight of Montgomery, voting for the removable of sales taxes on groceries. The House vote was 53-38 in favor of dropping the tax, which is supposed to lower taxes to low and middle-income families while increasing the taxes on the more affluent taxpayers.
The amendment will now go before the Senate, where Sen. Hank Sanders, democrat of Selma, is sponsoring a similar bill. Should the amendment pass the Senate, Alabama voters will get the opportunity to voice their opinion at the general election on Nov. 4.
To make up the difference in state revenue, the amendment calls for the end of the state income tax deduction on federal income tax. It would raise the standard deduction, while at the same time, raising personal and dependent exemptions. Rep. Knight estimates this would not affect 80 percent of the taxpayers.
Minority Leader Rep. Mike Hubbard of Auburn said he believes the move would not be good for the state.
In Brewton the state sales tax is four percent; the county adds one percent and the city adds another three percent. This new bill would not have any effect on the county or city tax, which means the consumer will still have to pay four percent sales tax on groceries, while sale taxes on other things would remain the same.