Tennessee Senate Eyes Food Tax Decrease

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The expected forty-two cent increase in a pack of cigarettes could actually save you money at the grocery store.

Senate Democrats and Republicans are working hard to do something about the tax you pay on food.

There are two options that could save you a lot of money.

It'll be some welcome relief considering we Tennesseans pay the highest tax on groceries in the country.

Shoppers spread the wealth with their grocery tax dollars.

"Here or Kroger or Food City. I spread my business. Fresh Market, where else, you know,” says shopper Cammy Glover.

Even though sales tax is one of the steadiest forms of income the state collects, it may also be one of the best ways for Tennessee to share surplus revenues with its taxpayers.

"It would be a nice thing to get something back,” says shopper Julia Hester.

"You can't just write everybody a check for $5.00 or whatever that it works out to and it just seems that sales tax is the best route to go,” State Senator Tim Burchett explains.

Both the House and the Senate are showing broad support to pass one of two proposed options.

"I certainly think that I'm for that and I feel like an awful lot of people that this would benefit greatly,” says Ellen Mitchell.

One option totally eliminates sales tax on groceries during November and December. The other permanently cuts the sales tax from six-percent to five and a half.

"I'd have to do the math on that. I don't know which would be the better of the options. But either way, it's a step in the right direction,” Mitchell says.

If you spend $100 a week on groceries, you'll pay more than $300 a year in taxes at the current 6% rate. Now, drop that to 5.5%, and you'll save $26 a year. If you don't pay any taxes on groceries in November and December, you're savings almost double.

"Well, yea, that'd help out a lot. I mean yea,” says shopper Jeff Bratten.

Senators Burchett, Jamie Woodson and Randy McNally all support the tax break.

West Virginia, which has a state income tax, lowers its sales tax on groceries by 1% beginning July first.