Georgia Sales Taxes on Groceries Again?

8:10 PM, Dec 1, 2010   |    comments
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  • Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians

ATLANTA - It's been about ten years since Georgians have paid state sales taxes on what they buy at the supermarket.

Faced with another looming budget crisis, some state lawmakers are thinking about bringing back that 4 cents on every dollar we once paid on groceries.

Shoppers 11Alive News interviewed Wednesday were unanimously against it.

"A couple of dollars can really make a difference, so I don't think now is really the right time to recommend something like that," said grocery shopper Sonia Kenney.

"I work two part time jobs, have no insurance, no increases in wages," said shopper Mark Giuliani.

"Things are tight and tough for me and my family and I think another tax would just stress us more," he added.

Bringing back the state sales tax on groceries is just one of several ideas on the table for a special tax reform council that's been meeting over the past several months.

Meeting at Mercer University's Atlanta Campus on Wednesday, they discussed the possibility of letting several sales tax exemptions for different groups expire or be eliminated altogether.

In a couple of weeks, the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians will make their recommendations to state lawmakers.

Some lawmakers favor increasing sales taxes to offset reducing or eventually eliminating the state's income tax.

On Wednesday the council's chairman said since income taxes make up about half of Georgia's $15.5-billion in annual revenues, reducing or eliminating them won't be easy or quick.

"It's hard to think that in a short period of time that you could reduce or eliminate that number because it is so large," said chairman A.D. Frazier.

"I'm not saying it's not doable over time," he added.

Grocery shoppers seemed luke-warm to the promise of lower income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes.

"If we thought we were going to come out a little better or at least no worse, that might make it," said shopper Sue Goddard.

"They say that a lot of times, but I actually have to see that happen before I believe that," said shopper Anthony Davis.

Republicans have gained even more seats in the General Assembly, which begins its next session in January.

Many in the GOP-controlled legislature believe cutting income, property and business taxes will spur economic growth and make the state more competitive.

But increasing any other taxes to offset those revenue losses will be a tough battle within their own ranks.

Increasing sales taxes on groceries will be especially tough since some say it would hurt Georgia's poorest citizens the most.

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