Lawmaker proposes lowering tax on food 1%

Lawmaker proposes lowering tax on food 1% (Image 1)

State lawmakers are again this legislative session considering lowering the sales tax on food.

Tennessee's food tax stands at 5.5% but local governments, like Davidson County, have the option of adding at least two cents more per dollar on groceries, and they usually do.

In Davidson County, the sales tax on food is 7.75%.

Memphis lawmaker GA Hardaway is sponsoring a measure this year to drop the grocery tax by a penny, or 1% point, to 4.5%.

He hopes the drop would eventually lead to no sales tax on food in the future.

“Eventually, essentials like food, need to be non-taxable items, they should be tax exempt,” he said.

Chipping another cent off the grocery tax means losing revenue the state needs to balance its budget.

To that Hardaway said there around $5 billion worth of sales tax exemptions on various products that need to be revisited.

“We could certainly find a few hundred million to alleviate the food tax,” he said.

Tennessee's food tax was lowered by a half percentage point in 2008 but is still among the highest in the nation.

Governor Bredesen said now is not the right time to further reduce the sales tax on food, adding a grocery tax reduction is “not the most efficient way” of getting money into the hands of people in need.

Hardaway thinks it's a “long shot” his bill will pass.

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