Mississippi’s grocery tax is highest in nation but proposals to reduce it have failed
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Higher prices at the grocery store impact all of us, and here in Mississippi, more tax gets tacked onto that bill than in any other state in the country.
“We believe cutting the grocery tax in half is a tremendous benefit to our citizens,” said Speaker Philip Gunn in 2021.
“By eliminating the grocery tax, at least we would provide them with some relief,” said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Derrick Simmons in 2021.
Neither a reduction or elimination is in place in Mississippi. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s month-long suspension of the grocery tax is underway. So, we’re asking Mississippi lawmakers if they think the issue will get another look.
“I don’t think we can afford to ignore it,” said Rep. Robert Johnson, House Minority Leader. “It is an election year. It’s, you know, gas and groceries are where people are getting hit the hardest, and so we had an opportunity to do something about both of those.”
A grocery tax reduction was tied up in the larger tax reform plans that went through several versions before the final passage. However, Republican Sen. Jeremy England says there’s a domino effect that complicates an elimination of the tax.
“One of the big points that we have to look at is that if we cut the grocery tax, we’re messing with our municipalities and counties and their revenue sources,” noted England. “So, it’s something we really need to talk with him about before we do this.”
What about a temporary suspension like Tennessee?
“I know there was some discussion last year about us doing that with the gas tax,” added England. “And so I know that there’s some, you know, there’s some thought behind that. And there’s some ideas, and look, all of us want to help our Mississippians when we can to keep money in their pockets. I’m not a fan of temporary tax cuts. I’d rather just get in there and cut the tax.”
Democrats say regardless of what’s happening they plan to bring it back up.
“Sales tax on grocery creates an equality gap, more so than any other, because working people and working poor people, that’s where they spend their money on things they have to buy. And so it has a more detrimental effect on those people,” added Rep. Johnson. “The most equitable tax cut we could make was a grocery tax.”
The legislature returns to the State Capitol in January.
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