TN lawmakers consider cutting sales tax on healthy foods - WSMV Channel 4

TN lawmakers consider cutting sales tax on healthy foods

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

For years, Tennessee lawmakers have looked for ways to lower the state's sales tax on food, but now the amount shoppers save could all depend on the types of food they buy.

Gov. Bill Haslam has expressed an interest in reducing the taxes on all food sold in grocery stores by one-quarter percent, but some lawmakers just want to focus on what is healthy - unprocessed foods and items that have never been cut or bagged.

State Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, is proposing either getting rid of the sales tax all together on fruits and meat, reducing the tax on all unprocessed food by one percent or reducing the tax on unprocessed vegetables from 5 1/4 to 3 percent.

"We can still be good conservatives and cut taxes, but we can do it in a way that incentivizes being more healthy and doing something that would impact positively the challenges we have with obesity in our state," Williams said.

Some worry it could cost too much time and money to draw the distinction on what is and isn't considered an unprocessed food.

A version of Williams' bill that would eliminate all sales tax on all unprocessed food passed out of a House subcommittee Monday. That version would cost the state an estimated $80 million in lost tax revenue, so Williams said he will likely later amend it to a tax reduction instead.

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