NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Senate Passes Tax Cut on Groceries, Henry Talks Fancy Cheese

A bill aimed at easing the pain at Tennessee’s grocery checkout lanes is headed to the governor’s desk for approval.

Senate Bill 199, sponsored by Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, would reduce retail sales tax on food from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. The measure passed the state Senate almost unanimously Monday.

The sole “no” vote came from elder Nashville Democrat Douglas Henry, who applauded the financial relief the bill would give to low-income Tennesseans but argued the importance of revenue from the tax and lamented that the break would also apply to wealthier residents, himself included, when buying luxury items.

“This is the best tax we got, it pays for everything,” Henry told the chamber. “When you give it back to poor people, that’s good. But you also give back to rich people. I buy imported Swiss cheese because I like to eat it. You’re lowering taxes on my cheese as well as the poor man’s Velveeta”

The legislation has already cleared the House and would go into effect on July 1, pending Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.

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