Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's Time to End the Grocery Tax

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm of Durant

Hello again, everybody! In some cases, it takes years of effort to get a good idea all the way through the Legislature. The back-to-school sales tax holiday was one of those good ideas.

Now, a new battle is looming: the effort to remove state sales taxes on groceries. It is morally wrong to tax food for families. It is even more wrong given the fact that the sales tax on groceries puts a heavier burden on middle- and lower-income families than on anyone else.

The wealthy and the not-so-wealthy all have to pay the same dollar amount on the food they need to keep their family alive. The reason the grocery tax is unfair to middle- and lower-income Oklahomans is because paying the tax costs them a greater percentage of their income.

Middle- and lower-income families also spend a greater percentage of their income on necessities like groceries than the wealthy. That creates for most Oklahoma families a “double-whammy.”

Removing the state’s sales tax on groceries will help level the playing field, ensuring no one is asked to carry more than their share of the burden of funding state government. For me, it is a matter of simple fairness.

This ought to be the most popular of tax cuts – one you see whenever you buy food for your family; but it faces an uncertain future. A strange alliance doomed it in years past; that alliance will again join forces to keep you paying the state sales tax on bread and milk.

There are some who don’t think we should cut any tax at all. Naturally, they oppose removing the state sales tax on groceries. Still, there aren’t enough of them to kill it by themselves.

They team up with those who believe the first tax we should reduce or repeal is the income tax. Reducing the income tax alone is not a bad idea – until you look at the numbers.

The wealthiest among us would unfairly benefit more by reducing the state income tax. Here’s how reducing the income tax instead of the sales tax on groceries will widen the divide between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy.

Reducing the state income tax by one percent would cut taxes by $10,000 for someone making a million dollars a year. A family getting by on $20,000 would save only $200. That’s terribly unfair.

Now, let’s look at the grocery tax. Say a family has to spend $500 a month at the grocery store. Over the course of a year, every family – wealthy or not-so-wealthy – would save $270. That’s fair, and helps those who need it most.

If we are going to cut taxes, let’s cut one that will make a real difference in the budgets of real families. The state grocery tax needs to end, and it needs to end now.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week, and may God bless you all.


Redstater said...

Excellent proposal Senator Gumm, We moved to Oklahoma from Colorado (where they have NO tax on groceries) and was shocked. If people really want to do something to help the average person or the poor... your proposal is it.

Zena said...

EXCEllent idea. I'm behind you all the way. These rich people who call themselves 'Christians' should put up or shut up. May justice reign thru the land! Thank you for true leadership.