News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007


Alabama and Mississippi all alone in food-tax policy

Alabama is in another one of those "Thank God for Mississippi" situations. Our state and its neighbor will soon be the only ones that don't provide some sales tax relief on food for low-income families.

All other states either exempt groceries from the sales tax, reduce the tax on food, or give low-income people a tax credit or rebate, according to The Associated Press.

As many tax experts say, it's best to examine the entire tax structure rather than considering one isolated tax. The high sales tax on food is part of an Alabama tax structure that generally puts more of a burden on people with lower incomes. Compared to other states, Alabama has high sales tax and low property and income tax.

Broad-based tax reform would be a fine thing, but experience has shown it's not likely to happen in Alabama. The only strategy that works (occasionally) is small steps toward balance, such as eliminating or cutting the tax on food.

State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, proposes taking such a step by eliminating the state's 4 percent sales tax on groceries. His legislation deserves more consideration than it is getting from the current Legislature.

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