Haslam signs law lowering sales tax
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
May 23, 2013 | 1079 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grocery buyers get a break
Gov. Bill Haslam finishes the ceremonial signing of legislation lowering the tax on food from 5.25 percent to 5 percent in Sloan’s Grocery in Vonore. State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, is standing on the left and state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, is standing at center.
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Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation earlier this week in a ceremony that lowered the sales tax on groceries from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, effective July 1.

State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and state Rep. Eric Watson, R–Cleveland, were part of a signing ceremony at Sloan’s Grocery in Vonore.

“We’re lowering taxes and balancing the state budget by managing conservatively, making strategic investments in our priorities and finding new ways to make government more efficient and effective,” Haslam said. “The sales tax on food impacts all Tennesseans, and I applaud the General Assembly for passing this important piece of legislation this year.”

The bill, SB 199/HB 193, was introduced by the governor and was one of two tax cuts passed by the Legislature and signed by Haslam.

Bell said one of the biggest accomplishments was its commitment to lower taxes.

“We lowered the Hall Income Tax, eliminated the gift tax and are in the process of eliminating the death tax,” Bell said. “Our commitment has been to help every Tennessean and this helps all Tennesseans across the board.”

The bill was a continuation of legislation passed in 2012 that lowered the sales tax on groceries from 5.25 percent to a flat 5 percent rate.

State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who was not at the ceremony, said, “The second reduction of sales tax on food illustrates clearly that the Tennessee General Assembly keeps its word.

“We made the first half of this food tax reduction last session with the promise to return to the table and cut it again this year. And we did what we said we would do,” Brooks continued. “This tax savings will aid every county, every home and every family in Tennessee. It is wonderful to be a part of this General Assembly, when making effective, positive change in the lives of every person in Tennessee. This is a win-win for all of us.”

In total, the sales tax reduction this year will provide Tennessee taxpayers with more than $25 million in tax relief.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, sponsored the bill.

Watson sponsored legislation in 2008 to reduce the tax on groceries, but the bill was unsuccessful after being blocked by House Democrats.

“This new bill represents a promise to cut taxes and put more money back in the pockets of all Tennesseans,” Watson said. “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation and look forward to finding additional ways to ease the monetary burdens associated with the downturn in today’s economy over the coming weeks and months.”

The reduced tax rate does not apply to prepared foods such as a meal at a restaurant, candy, alcoholic beverages or tobacco.

“This new bill represents a promise to cut taxes and put more money back in the pockets of all Tennesseans,” Watson said. “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation and look forward to finding additional ways to ease the monetary burdens associated with the downturn in today’s economy over the coming weeks and months.”

Haslam included $23 million in the FY 2013-14 state budget to fund the legislation.