Alabama is one of only thirteen states across the country who taxes the sale of groceries.
According to the Tax Foundation, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota tax groceries at the same rate as the sales tax on all purchases, which puts a disproportionate burden on the poor, which may affect the quality of food they can afford to put on the table.
Stateline, an online site of The Pew Charitable Trusts, takes a deeper look at the states that continue to charge a grocery state, focusing on the Yellowhammer State:
In Alabama, most of the sales tax goes toward education. And Nancy Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, noted that every time the sales tax goes up, retail sales go down. That worries both retailers and educators in the state.
“The kicker here is where the replacement tax revenue is going to come from,” she said. “Alabama, like many states, is in budgetary crisis. So if legislators take away revenue, it’s not going to help solve their problems in continuing to help fund the state.”
Alabama State Sen. Gerald Dial is one legislator who would like to see the tax eliminated.
The tax, Dial told Stateline, is “the most regressive tax you can have and punishes those on fixed income.”
Dial knows the facts — households across the country spend more money on food when incomes rise, but food represents a smaller portion of income as they allocate additional funds to other goods. For poorer household, the food budget represent a larger percentage of their income in order to feed their families.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the lowest-income Americans spent an average of $3,667 on food in 2014, amounting to 34.1 percent of their income, . In contrast, middle-income families spent an average of $5,992 on food, or 13.4 percent of income.
Despite the facts against the tax, and a handful of lawmakers like Dial fighting against it, it doesn’t look like the grocery tax is going away any time soon in Alabama. For a state with a perennial budget shortfall, the tax provides a steady and secure stream of revenue.
Here’s a look at where groceries are taxed in America: