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States mull end to food sales tax

Jan. 29, 2007 at 11:01 AM

JACKSON, Miss., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Mississippi, Tennessee and several other states that charge sales tax on groceries are considering dropping the extra charges.

Fifteen states tax bread, milk and other groceries after three states dropped the tax last year and officials in some of those states say they would like to do away with them, Stateline.org reported Monday.

"No one should be taxed for buying basic food necessities," said Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe expressed a similar desire to do away with the grocery tax.

However, Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter told Stateline.org said his state cannot afford to do away with the 5 percent food sales tax, which brings the state $180 million in revenue each year. Instead, he said he plans to introduce a program to allow low-income families to deduct $90 from their state income taxes as compensation.

Wyoming put a 2-year hold on its program in 2006 after the state experienced a $1 billion budget surplus and lawmakers there have been considering making the hold permanent. Utah and South Carolina lowered their food sales taxes to a point less than the state taxes on goods, Stateline.org said.

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