NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday, Tennessee Rep. Aftyn Behn (D-Nashville) made a renewed push to eliminate the grocery sales tax in Tennessee, but Republicans didn’t immediately jump on board.
“The burden of the Tennessee grocery tax is a tax that weighs heavily on the shoulders of Tennessee families, making putting food on a table a challenge for too many,” Behn said.
According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Tennessee is one of 13 states with a sales tax on groceries. However, Tennessee has one of the lower tax rates on groceries with a 4% tax.
According to the governor’s team, the tax holiday would save Tennesseans about $273 million, which also means that this money is no longer going to the state. If that were to be extended to a full year at the same rate of savings, eliminating the grocery sales tax would cost Tennessee more than $1 billion.
According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the average family saved about $100 during the three-month break from the grocery tax. For a full year, eliminating this tax could save the average Tennessee family $400 annually.
When asked about Behn’s proposal, Gov. Bill Lee expressed his support for cutting taxes.
“We will consider ways to cut taxes; that’s almost always a part of the equation,” he said.
However, Lee didn’t say whether he supported this particular bill.
“I don’t know about the bill itself. I haven’t seen any language on that,” Lee said. “We have to look at every tax law in our state to make sure that it benefits Tennesseans, benefits Tennessean businesses and individuals as well.”
Behn’s proposal includes replacing the lost revenue from the tax by “closing corporate offshore tax loopholes,” like Amazon and FedEx.
Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) has proposed a grocery tax cut in the past, and when asked about how she feels about this legislation, she said keeping taxes low is a GOP priority.
“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,” Hazlewood wrote in a statement.
Behn told reporters she hasn’t yet had meetings with Republicans on the bill yet and she is welcome to other suggestions for offsetting the costs of eliminating the grocery sales tax.