Food Tax

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A state Senate committee approved bills Wednesday to take the sales tax off food, but the bills' sponsors don't expect them to become law right now.

State Senator Hank Sanders and state Senator Gerald Dial say they are trying to generate discussions about the sales tax once the Legislature gets beyond the current budget shortage.

The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee voted unanimously for Dial's bill that would take the state's 4 percent sales tax off food. It would replace the $500 million in lost revenue by raising the state sales tax on other purchases from 4 percent to 5 percent. Dial's bill would leave city and county sales taxes on food in place.

The Senate Finance and Taxation-Education Committee also voted unanimously for Sanders' bill that would remove the state, county and city sales taxes on food. The revenue would be replaced by ending the state's income tax deduction for federal taxes paid and for Medicare and Social Security taxes. That revenue would be distributed to city, county and state governments.

Sanders and Dial have made several attempts since 1992 to remove the sales taxes on food, but they have never succeeded.