Grocery tax bill moved in Senate Committee

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2009

With one child tugging on her shirt, the other wondering up the aisle and another walking alongside her mother — that’s the way Lindsay Hartley was filling her shopping cart at Southern Family Market Wednesday.

And, it’s something she does at least once a week, for a price of around $200.

If an Alabama Senate Committee has its way, though, Hartley won’t be paying that much for long.

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The state Finance and Taxation-Education Committee moved a bill Wednesday that would eliminate the 4-percent state sales tax on groceries, looking for some way to ease the financial burden.

But, it’s a bill that might not make it much past the Senate committee, since the party vote was split among Democrats and Republicans in committee, reported the Associated Press.

With fewer Democrats in the Senate, the legislation could fail.

Though the bill hasn’t made it to the House yet, local legislator Rep. Alan Boothe (D-Troy) said he isn’t sure whether he supports the bill.

“I have not seen where this money is going to be replaced so I’m having to look through that,” Boothe said. “We can’t afford to lose this in the tight budget time we are experiencing.”

Boothe said he did vote for the bill last year, which made it through the House and then died in the Senate, and he supports the concept of easing the tax burden placed on food.

“There are people that certainly need relief, and it is a burden upon some people,” Boothe said.

But in a tight budget year, Boothe said the revenues lost would have to come from some other source.

According to the AP, the plan would replace the $364 million lost in grocery tax revenues by stopping some of the state’s wealthiest from receiving a state income tax deduction on federal taxes paid.

This would be applied to workers making between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, or couples making between $200,000 and $400,000.

If the bill does pass this year, it would not take effect unless approved by Alabama voters in a statewide election in 2010.