As inflation hits a 40-year high in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama residents have begun calling on state leaders to consider eliminating the tax on food to give consumers a break at the register.
Some advocacy groups have long touted measures that would decrease food insecurity in Alabama, and now they are calling for the food tax to be outright eliminated. Alabama Arise has worked for years to get rid of the food tax in the state, calling the 4 percent tax “a regressive, punitive tax that costs struggling Alabamians the equivalent of two weeks’ worth of groceries each year.”
However, the organization and other activists acknowledge the difficulties that would come along with eliminating the food tax, which is an important source of revenue for the state.
“Eliminating the tax without replacement revenue would strip $480 million out of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) budget. It would be irresponsible to take that much funding away from public schools, especially given Alabama’s history of underfunding education. Whether and how to replace that revenue has been a sticking point in the grocery tax debate,” reads the Alabama Arise website.
The organization has ideas on how to combat the discrepancy and eliminate the food tax in a responsible way. Primarily, according to AA, closing a tax loophole that allows the wealthiest Alabamians to deduct their federal tax payments from their state income taxes. Other advocates for grocery tax relief have suggested measures like offering income tax rebates to make up for the 11 percent increase in grocery prices.
“A lot of people say our educational system is underfunded,” said State Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur to AL.com. “We should be careful and cautious moving down that road.”
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