Oklahoma Lawmakers Looking to End Sales Tax on Groceries
Beverly Cantrell - January 30, 2022 9:07 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Oklahoma is one of the six states that has a sales tax on groceries. Of those six states, Oklahomans pay the fourth highest rate at 4.5%. Soon this could change, with both political parties proposing bills to eliminate the tax.
Republican State Representative Sean Roberts is proposing HB 2844, Democrat State Representative Emily Virgin is proposing HB 3621, and Republican Senator Greg Treat is proposing SB 1495.
Representative Virgins’ bill differs from Representative Roberts’ bill in that hers does not call for a vote from the people, where Robert’s does.
The bills will go to legislative session on February 7th, where they may be voted on.
Rep. Roberts, R-District 36, said in a press release, “We currently have a surplus in funds and revenues are up, so now is the time to bring this much-needed relief to Oklahoma families.”
The bills can greatly help Oklahomans, but at what risk?
According to analysis by The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy eliminating the sales tax on groceries would cost the state $235 million annually. This money will be cut from state municipalities, which can have a large impact on Oklahomans.
Emma Morris, Health Care and Revenue Policy Analyst at The Oklahoma Policy Institute said, “Municipalities relied heavily on sales tax, so taking that sales tax off groceries would would really hurt the budgets of local tax cities and towns across Oklahoma, which would have a real impact on their ability to offer things for their residents like fire, police, all the things that we use every day”.
While Morris believes eliminating sales tax on groceries as a whole could be harmful to the community, she does have a solution, “Instead of eliminating the sales tax completely, (the other option) would be to expand the sales tax relief credit which was created a credit created in 1990 to offset the cost of the sales tax on groceries for lower income Oklahomans. So if we were to significantly expand that credit, rather than fully eliminating the sales tax on groceries, we would be able to as a state provide targeted tax relief for those who really need it without taking a big chunk out of the state budget”.