Mississippi’s grocery tax remains the highest in the country

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Just across the state line in Tennessee, shoppers will soon get a break on getting taxes tacked onto their grocery bill. The sales tax holiday will span from August to October this year.

You may hear about Mississippi having the highest grocery tax in the country during this election year. Changing that has had bipartisan support but has never crossed the finish line.

”Anytime they can save us some money, it will mean a lot,” said shopper Leroy Bedingfield. “Because every little bit helps. It does.”

If you spend $100 for groceries a week, you’re forking over about $360 in grocery taxes alone each year. But discussions of reducing or eliminating the grocery tax in Mississippi have fallen flat.

“It adds up, and these people in the lower income level,” noted shopper Jane May. “They can’t handle that. They’ve got to make up their mind if they want to stay home and not burn gas if they have a car or eat better than they’ve been eating or not eating at all, or having their medicine. It makes a big difference for lower income.”

Sen. Rod Hickman unsuccessfully proposed a month of tax-free groceries, and another bill he filed would’ve done away with the tax completely.

“The one thing about grocery taxes is that this is the equitable place to, you know, have other tax cuts that we’ve done, I don’t see them as equitable,” explained Sen. Rod Hickman.

In the House, Rep. Jeffery Hulum III proposed cutting the tax in half, to no avail.

“If you take the taxes away from those groceries, those taxes can be used to pay a utility bill,” described Rep. Jeffery Hulum, III. “It can pay for medication. It can pay for some of the other living expenses. That’s all this is by giving back to the people, and it’s given more than a paycheck back to them.”

Both members say they’ll try again next session.

Douglas Carswell at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy makes this note about the possibility of eliminating the tax, highlighting the significance of giving you the spending power rather than the politicians.

“The key is that we’re eliminating taxes, whether it’s income tax or grocery tax, rather than doing what we’re currently doing, which is leaving politicians a huge mountain of money to find reasons to spend,” said Carswell, President, and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “That’s not good for Mississippi.”

Mississippi is one of three states where you pay a full sales tax rate on groceries. Alabama is one of the others, and its legislature is currently debating changing that.

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