Lack of Information Means Tax Bill is a Bad Idea

The one topic that has hovered over the legislature this year is not helping south Mississippi recover from the hurricane, but how to increase the cigarette tax and reduce the sales tax on groceries.

Like other issues, this one was fraught with a lack of information. No one knows how much tax is collected on groceries, because the Tax Commission doesn’t keep up with that. We know what’s collected from grocery stores, but look at your receipts and you’ll see how much you buy that is not food and how that varies from one trip to the next.

Remember, the tax cut would only apply to food, not to napkins or shampoo or anything else you buy at the store. If you spent 100 dollars and 70 was spent on food, you would save less than two-and-a-half dollars.

That savings assumes, of course, that the store doesn’t increase its prices by the same percentage as the tax cut. They might do that, since they know you’ve been paying that amount all along.

If the legislature wants to do this responsibly, they should require the Tax Commission to keep up with the tax collected on groceries. Then next year, there will be realistic numbers on which to base their actions.

To see how your legislators voted this session, go to mspolicy.org.