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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Jay Paul Gumm
Senate District 6
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston and Marshall Counties

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2007

Senator Jay Paul Gumm
Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Gumm Says Ending Grocery Tax a “Moral Imperative”
Democratic Senator Authors Legislation to End State Portion of Grocery Tax

OKLAHOMA CITY – Calling it a “moral imperative” for Oklahoma’s working families, a Democratic senator has introduced legislation to repeal the state sales tax on groceries.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, is the author of Senate Bill 34, which would end collection of the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries. The state sales tax on groceries is 4.5 cents on every dollar spent at the check-out stand.

The exemption would not extend to alcoholic beverages or tobacco. The bill allows municipalities and counties to continue collecting the grocery sales tax unless each makes the decision to honor the exemption.

“This is a direct tax cut at the cash register for those Oklahomans who need it most,” said Gumm. “The people I represent have told me time and again: ‘When the budget gets better, please end the sales tax on groceries.’ Now is the time and this bill is a response to that plea from the people.”

As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Gumm shepherded into law the two largest tax cuts in Oklahoma history. During those discussions, he proposed doing away with the grocery sales tax. The proposal ran into resistance, however, because the focus was on cutting the income tax.

The resistance was so great last year that a bill to cut the grocery sales tax was even denied a hearing in the House of Representatives’ Revenue and Taxation Committee, effectively killing it. Now, Gumm says, it is time for both parties to focus on cutting the most regressive of taxes – the grocery sales tax.

“The grocery sales tax is a heavier burden than any other tax on the families who can least afford it,” Gumm explained. “Lower and middle income Oklahomans pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes than do upper-income Oklahomans.”

A study by the Alliance for Oklahoma’s Future proves the point. It shows that the bottom three-fifths of taxpayers – most Oklahomans – pay an effective tax rate of 11 percent for state and local taxes. The wealthiest Oklahomans, however, pay an effective state and local tax rate of less than 9 percent.

Lower and middle income families also spend a greater percentage of their income on necessities like groceries than do the wealthy. That creates for most Oklahoma families what Gumm calls a “double-whammy.”

“Removing the sales tax on groceries will certainly make the tax system more fair for Oklahoma’s working families,” he said. “We can, and we should, focus on ending a tax that affects more than anyone else those least able to afford it.”

The lawmaker concluded by noting that most of the money consumers would save through ending the state’s grocery sales tax would be pumped right back into the economy. “The working families who would benefit most from this bill will turn around and spend the savings on other necessities their family needs,” he said.

“Clearly, removal of the grocery sales tax is a moral imperative for the people of Oklahoma.”

For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office - (405) 521-5586

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