Lawmakers Debate Grocery Sales Tax

Monday, February 23rd 2009, 7:00 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State lawmakers are considering dozens of bills this session that would exempt certain sales from sales tax, including the sale of groceries.

It's an exemption lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are fighting for, but one that pretty much every city and town in the state is fighting against.

The vast majority of their general fund revenue comes from sales tax, so at the top of both Oklahoma City's and Tulsa's list of legislative priorities this session is defeating any new sales tax exemptions, especially one on groceries.

Jeff Hickman co-sponsored a bill this session that would phase out the state portion of the sales tax on groceries over five years.

"Very few states have a state tax remaining on groceries," Representative Jeff Hickman (R-District 58) said. "If there's a way for us to do that responsibly as a state, then I think it's worth having that."

According to officials with the Oklahoma Municipal League, there are already 149 separate sales tax exemptions in Oklahoma and the grocery exemption is one of more than a dozen new ones being considered this session.

Oklahoma is also one of the few states where cities do not have access to any ad valorem taxes, which is why they're so dependent on sales tax.