The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 8, 2013

Welcome relief

Removal of food sales tax a wise decision for state

— One of the wisest decisions that our state lawmakers have made was removing the food sales tax from our grocery bill.

It benefits West Virginia families. It will especially help our elderly, some who are on fixed incomes already.

West Virginia began phasing out the food tax in 2005 as the rate fell from 6 cents per dollar spent in 2005 to 3 cents in 2008 and to 1 cent in 2012. The final penny went away last Monday.

Eliminating the final 1 percent rate will save West Virginia families an average $52 a year. West Virginia families have saved a total $162 million a year since the phase-out began, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who spoke during a press conference last week.

Delegate Kelli Sobonya wore an “18” sticker, which demonstrated in an earlier campaign how that elimination of the tax meant that West Virginians would get that many days of “free food.”

That’s significant to many of our families.

It was in dire financial times for our state in the 1980s that a 6 percent tax was slapped on food. But West Virginia has recovered and is on far more stable ground now.

It’s a well known fact that West Virginia has one of the oldest and poorest populations in the nation. To tax every can of pork and beans, every loaf of bread and every gallon of milk — it hurt the pocketbook of every struggling family in our state.

And it was a burden on those who didn’t need another obstacle to overcome while trying to make ends meet.

The estimated $27 million saved will be poured back into our economy in other ways, by purchasing clothing and paying for utilities — and maybe even a meal in a restaurant — which remains taxed, as it is “prepared food.”

Stretching a paycheck a little further will help everyday West Virginians provide for their families.

We are now one of 29 states in the nation that doesn’t tax food. That makes our fair state a little more attractive to raise a family. Working families don’t often get a break — but this is one measure that is a welcome relief.