Ending grocery sales tax a great idea

Some good news was delivered to cash-strapped South Dakotans in the middle of last week when Gov. Kristi Noem announced she was joining the discussion on ending sales tax on groceries. The governor made the announcement at Dakota Butcher last Wednesday in Rapid City. Noem said that if elected in November, she will fight to repeal the tax to benefit South Dakotans struggling to buy food.
“What I’m hearing from families is they cannot believe how much groceries cost,” Noem said.
Noem placed the blame for the increasing cost of groceries on President Joe Biden, citing rising gas prices and inflation as hitting South Dakota families hard. Regardless of the reasons, it is true that groceries are becoming increasingly more expensive, and taxing people on food just seems counterintuitive. The last thing people who are struggling to pay for their food need is more cost placed on top of the basic necessities they are purchasing just trying to survive.
Presently, South Dakota is one of only 13 states in the country that taxes groceries. The state charges a 4.5 percent sales tax on its groceries. So, if you go to the grocery store and purchase $100 worth of groceries, are you paying another $4.50 in sales tax on top of the cost of the groceries you are purchasing. More and more, states that are still charging sales tax on groceries are investigating getting rid of the tax.
The move to get rid of sales tax groceries in the state isn’t something that is new. It seems every year there is push to do away with the sales tax on groceries, usually led by the Democrats within the state legislature. More and more Republicans have jumped on board the cause, however, and this past session, several Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats to fight to repeal the tax, but it ultimately failed in the Senate, 22-9.
It can be debated how much repealing the sales tax on groceries will benefit a consumer, but I think we can all agree every little bit helps. If you save that $4.50 in sales tax every time you buy $100 in groceries, that will certainly add up to significant savings over time. Especially when you consider how much groceries are costing people these days.
We believe this is a bipartisan issue people can get behind. There are people struggling to pay for their groceries on both sides of the aisle. Struggling to pay your bills is not something exclusive to Republicans or Democrats. It is something that can happen to anybody under the right circumstances. Or, should we say, the wrong circumstances.
We applaud Gov. Noem for jumping on board this cause, and we hope the legislature can get it done in the upcoming session. It will provide savings to many people who could desperately use them.

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