Two Alabama Legislative Committees voted last month for a bill that would remove the state sales tax on groceries. This was most welcome news for lots of folks in our state and it’s something that is long overdue. The House Government Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committees overwhelmingly approved identical constitutional amendments on April 2nd that would remove the state’s 4% sales tax on groceries. To make up for the lost revenue, the constitutional amendments would end the state income tax deduction for federal income taxes paid. The full House then passed the Knight bill by a vote of 63 to 39.
The legislation would also raise the threshold at which low-income Alabamians start paying state income taxes by raising the standard deduction and personal and dependent exemptions. For a family of four, the threshold would go from $12,600 to about $20,000. Rep. John Knight, sponsor of the House legislation, has worked long and hard for this legislation. John says the Legislature can do something for “the least of these” by passing this bill and that it’s a tax cut for the working families across the state. All states, except Alabama and Mississippi, remove all or part of their state sales tax from groceries or have a tax rebate for food purchases by the poor.
It’s high time Alabama corrected a burdensome tax on folks who need help from an economic perspective. The Alabama Legislature has talked about removing the sales tax on groceries for years. Alabama Arise, a lobbying group for the poor, should get lots of credit for this initial victory. It’s now up to the Senate to pass the House bill. If the proposed constitutional amendment is passed by the Legislature, it will only take effect if approved by a majority of voters statewide in the general election on November 4th.
I believe this legislation should be passed by the Senate so that the people of Alabama can decide whether it should become law. It’s my firm belief that the proposal becoming law would be a first step in the right direction. What our state really needs is a complete reform of our existing tax system. Hopefully, that can be accomplished one of these days. Until that happens, however, Alabama citizens will have to live with a tax system that is bad for low and middle income citizens and real good for the rich. This bill is a step in the right direction, but there is more that needs to be done. Rep. John Knight and Senator Hank Sanders, along with all of the folks at Alabama Arise, should be commended for their refusal to give up and for persevering in this fight. Hopefully, the end result will be a victory for lots of folks in Alabama.
Source: Associated Press
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