Lower grocery taxes equal less hungry?

Lower grocery taxes equal less hungry?

The Press 1/4

Randy O’Brien

Special to The Press

Nashville – Food pantries across Tennessee know that many poor families are making hard decisions about where to spend their money this winter. 

Brian Zralek, program director for hunger, food access and policy with Community Food Advocates, says a recent study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic and Policy found people earning less than $17,000 per year pay nearly 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while Tennesseans earning over $414,000 a year pay only 3.3 percent. 

Zralek says eliminating or reducing the tax on groceries, which can run to 7.75 percent, would ease food security anxiety.

“We are definitely in favor of removing the burden on low-income families and finding more equitable ways to generate revenue for our state.”

Zralek says if the tax on groceries was reduced or eliminated, family budgets that become strained during the winter months could be eased.

“They would feel a little bit more confident in knowing where their next meal was going to come from and not having to decide between groceries and keeping the heat on during the winter months.”

Studies find that raising taxes on the wealthy and repealing the tax on groceries in Tennessee would provide every family with the equivalent of a free month’s worth of groceries. Critics of raising taxes on high-earning individuals say that could stifle economic growth and cost the state jobs.

Find the study at www.itepnet.org.

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