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AARP Georgia Says No to Grocery Tax

Barry Reid remembers how proud former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller was when he succeeded in suspending the state sales tax for grocery purchases in the 1990s.

See Also: 10 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bills

But that memory suddenly seemed ancient history in December, when legislators floated the idea of reinstating the grocery tax to pay for energy tax breaks for businesses.

AARP Georgia acted quickly. With State President Reid as spokesperson, AARP Georgia hit radio stations across the state in December and again in January to publicize the proposal and strongly oppose it.

“Just as Alabama is discussing getting rid of its grocery-tax, some Georgia state legislators are talking about reinstating ours. This is a tax that will hit everyone in the pocketbook, and it will hit our most vulnerable residents hardest, including our seniors on fixed incomes,” Reid said in comments sent to all Georgia radio stations.

Reid’s comments were picked up by 120 radio stations across the state, reaching an estimated 1 million listeners. An additional six radio interviews on the topic reached another 470,000 listeners.

The proposal died quietly soon after. No bill reinstating the tax was introduced during the recently concluded legislative session.

Meanwhile, the next time you study a grocery store sales receipt, notice that you likely pay some sales tax on grocery purchases. That’s because counties and municipalities also levy sales taxes. Those local taxes often apply to groceries. What Georgians don’t pay, however, is state sales tax on groceries, saving consumers 4 cents on every dollar spent. Georgia’s 4 percent statewide sales tax was suspended for grocery purchases in 1998 during the Miller administration.

Want to be involved the next time AARP Georgia takes a stand? Contact Kathy Floyd, associate state director for advocacy, for more information on AARP Georgia’s advocacy work on state issues. You can reach Kathy at 404-870-3791 or

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