Local shoppers and community leaders react to the passage of grocery tax reduction

Published 7:55 am Friday, June 9, 2023

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As the grocery tax bill awaits a signature from the governor, Lanett shoppers have given the bill their stamp of approval.

The bill passed with bipartisan support would grant a tax cut of 1% on food starting Sept. 1. Another tax cut would follow in Sept. 2024. 

The bill is intended to help Alabamians with the growing prices of groceries. 

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“It’s the largest tax cut we’ve ever had in state history,” said Rep. Danny Garrett. 

The gradual 2% tax cut would eliminate $300 million in tax revenue and save Alabama shoppers money on their grocery bills. According to Alabama Arise, families will save an average of $150 per year in the first year’s reduction.  

“I’m very proud of how we’re putting money aside to help our citizens … How we’ve cut sales tax revenue to help families’ money go further,” said Rep. Debbie Wood. “I’m honored to be a part of it.”

The second 1% tax cut scheduled for Sept. 2024 will depend on whether the state’s Educational Trust Fund revenues have grown the predicted 3.5% over the next year. If so, families will be able to save an average of $300 per year on taxes. 

“It would be good for senior citizens,” said Lanett resident Robin Palmer. “We need every break that we can get.”

Palmer said she believes the tax cut would be a support to older adults as well as single parents on fixed incomes. 

Lanett native Janet Emfinger agreed that the tax cut would help struggling families.

“I think it’s needed,” Emfinger said. “Some of us go from check to check, and that would help. Because you spend at least $500 a month.” 

Becky Poore, from LaGrange, has lived in Lanett for nine years. She said it took awhile for her family to get accustomed to the shift in food tax. 

“It was actually kind of a shock when we came here because Georgia has almost no tax,” Poore explained. “So we ended up not doing our grocery budget right, calculating it, and I ended up being short a few times and put stuff back.”

Poore said her family tries to stick to one grocery visit a week. For a family of four, she said they often end up spending $600 a month. 

“I think the lower tax on the food is a good thing,” she said. “It makes food way more affordable for people and, especially now that we have a tax on the gas, it evens out.”

Whereas Thomas Henderson, who has a six-person household, said his family visits the grocery store two or three times a week. Recently, the rise in grocery prices has been a burden.

They often spend closer to $900 to $1000 a month on groceries. 

“It would help out a lot because food is expensive,” Henderson said. “Especially produce and dairy products. The cost of milk and eggs now is ridiculous.”