TN lawmaker to propose law abolishing statewide grocery tax

The holiday saved the average family an estimated $100 over a three-month period.
The holiday saved the average family an estimated $100 over a three-month period.
Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 6:32 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee’s grocery tax holiday came to an end Tuesday night.

The holiday saved the average family an estimated $100 over a three-month period.

Rep. Aftyn Behn (D-Nashville) plans to propose a law that would abolish the grocery tax and replace it with taxes on corporations. Democrats have advocated for eliminating the grocery tax annually, Behn said.

“I’m calling on corporations to pay their fair share of taxes in order to abolish the grocery tax,” Behn said. “I would challenge the Republicans across the aisle to join me in fighting to abolish it because it hurts their working-class families as well.”

Tennessee does not have a state income tax and is one of 13 states with a grocery tax. Tennessee already has the second lowest tax burden of all 50 states, Gov. Bill Lee’s office said. The tax holiday was part of the Tennessee Tax Works Act, which was the biggest tax cut in Tennessee’s history.

“The Lee administration will continue to consider every opportunity to keep money in Tennesseans’ pockets,” Gov. Lee’s office said.

A statement from State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) read:

”Keeping taxes low is a priority for House Republicans every budget year, and suspension of the grocery tax is a way for all Tennesseans to benefit from our state’s economic success. We passed a one-month waiver in 2022; this year we were able to extend that to a full quarter based on higher than projected revenues.  The waiver was part of the single largest tax cut ever in state history; eliminating the grocery tax alone reduced state revenues by $273 million. Inflation is hurting a lot of Tennesseans this year, and unfortunately, because of that, we’re seeing lower-than-expected projections for state revenue next year. We will continue cutting taxes wherever we can as long as we’re not impairing Tennessee’s ability to provide the services at the efficiency our citizens expect and rely on.”

Shoppers like Serifatu Walton would like to see taxes on things that aren’t necessary. She said she appreciated the savings over the last three months.

“Any little bit to take the edge off, considering the cost of housing, gasoline, I appreciate any kind of support,” Walton said. “I wish we could find a way to avoid having a tax on groceries. It’s something that everybody has to have, it’s not optional.”

Behn plans to unveil her proposed legislation later this month.