Monday, April 6, 2009

TN Sales Tax Highest in Nation

TN Sales Tax on Food Highest in the Nation

Nashville, TN - At 5.5 percent, Tennessee's sales tax on food is the highest in the nation, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. That means low-income families in Tennessee, struggling to make ends meet, are paying a higher percentage of their income in food taxes than Tennesseans in higher income brackets, tax experts say.

State Rep. G.E. Hardaway, Memphis, has introduced legislation (HJR0076) calling for a joint legislative committee to study tax reform. He is convinced that the current tax on food and other necessities is unfair to low-income families.

"I believe that essentials like food need to be non-taxable items; they should be tax exempt."

Opponents of Hardaway's goal warn the state would lose revenue. Eliminating exemptions and loopholes from current sales tax laws could easily make up any shortfall, Hardaway says.

John Stewart, state chair of Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, says his organization supports Hardaway's efforts. He points to numbers showing how unfair high food taxes are for Tennessee families with low incomes.

"Twenty to 25 percent of their disposable income goes to food, while for persons in the upper-income levels that number is five or six percent, if that."

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