by Scott Dreyer
Turkey, ham, chuck roast, pork loin, cornish hens, cranberries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, corn, cheese, flour, sugar, egg nog, hot chocolate mix.
Quick! What do these items have in common?
For one thing, they are popular food items, most not only year-long, but especially at the holiday season. Plus, if you are a Virginian, they are items you have been paying extra taxes on these past six months.
Doesn’t everyone pay a tax on groceries?
No. Five states have no grocery tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. A tax on groceries is called a regressive tax. According to investopedia.com, a regressive tax is “a tax applied uniformly, taking a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from middle- and high-income earners …. With a regressive tax, the tax burden decreases as income rises.” In other words, imagine a low-income family with several children. Their grocery bill eats up (pardon the pun) a huge chunk of their total budget. In contrast, imagine you’re Sen. Mark Warner (D). With a net worth north of $300 million, and as the richest member of the Senate, his grocery bill relative to his total fortune is infinitesimal.
So what about Virginia?
When campaigning for governor, then-candidate Glenn Youngkin (R) pledged to end the state’s tax on groceries and some personal hygiene products (diapers, tampons, etc.). At that time, the state grocery was was 1.5%, and Richmond let local governments charge an additional 1% tax. So, when one spent $100 on groceries and some personal hygiene products, the tax was $2.50 total.
Working to keep his campaign promises, Gov. Youngkin urged the General Assembly to put the tax cuts into law. Amazingly, in our hyper-partisan environment, in February 2022 the House of Delegates voted 80-20 on House Bill (HB) 90, to end both the state and local grocery tax. In the state Senate, however, Republicans also tried to completely kill the grocery tax, but Democrats stopped it. As a compromise, the state dropped its 1.5% tax but let local governments continue to charge a 1% tax if they wished. Continue reading →