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Activists hail Alabama vote to reduce State sales tax on food

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The Alabama Senate voted thirty one to zero to cut the State’s sales tax on groceries from 4% down to 2%. The measure now goes to Governor Kay Ivey after the Alabama House agreed to a change by the Senate. If she signs the bill, it will take effect in September. The public advocacy group Alabama Arise hailed the vote as victory for State residents struggling to put food on the table.

“Reducing the state sales tax on groceries will provide meaningful help for Alabamians who struggle to make ends meet,” says Alabama Arise Executive Director Robin Hyden in a written statement. “Alabama Arise is thrilled that legislators listened to the people by voting unanimously for this essential policy change. And we urge Gov. Kay Ivey to sign HB 479 into law quickly. Arise members from every corner of our state have advocated relentlessly for decades for Alabama to untax groceries. We cannot thank our members enough for their persistent efforts to make this bill’s passage a reality. Today is a testament to what’s possible when Alabamians of all races, genders, incomes and beliefs work together toward a vision of shared prosperity and a brighter future.” “This grocery tax reduction will benefit every Alabamian. And it is an important step toward righting the wrongs of our state’s upside-down tax system, which forces Alabamians with low and moderate incomes to pay a higher share of their incomes in state and local taxes than the wealthiest households.

Alabama is one of only three states that tax groceries at the same rate as other purchases. The measure had been proposed unsuccessfully in Montgomery for decades but gained bipartisan support as the state sees a record budget surplus — partly driven by rising prices leading to higher sales tax collections — and consumer frustration over the cost of food.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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