By Quin Hillyer at al.com;
Amidst the appearance of tawdriness surrounding Gov. Robert Bentley, it’s easy not to notice when he does something right.
The governor, though, deserves great credit for creating a task force – via Executive Order 28, signed Tuesday – to recommend a way to remove state sales tax from “groceries and essential food products.”
If the task force and then the Legislature can make the arithmetic work, this sales-tax exemption would be a long overdue reform.
Alabama’s biggest cities are burdened by the highest major-municipal sales taxes in the nation, at 10 percent for Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. (Chicago’s is 10.25 percent, but exempts groceries, making its effective rate much lower.) Meanwhile, only one other state, Mississippi, taxes basic sustenance without some sort of rebate or credit – and its statewide sales tax is only 7 percent. Alabama’s high sales taxes on foodstuffs are both immoral and economically counterproductive (about which, more discussion in a moment).
Unfortunately, grocery taxes also bring in significant money to a state treasury already, and always, on the edge of serious imbalance. If food is made exempt from sales taxes, most and perhaps all of those state revenues will need to be replaced from some other source….
For the rest of the column, please read here.