Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 2, 2013

Food tax repeal

Long-awaited help for West Virginia

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — It’s official. Residents of West Virginia no longer have to pay a sales tax on their groceries. Legislation repealing the tax on food and food ingredients took effect Monday.

The Mountain State began phasing out the food tax in 2005. Since that time the state’s food tax has decreased from 6 cents per dollar to 1 cent in 2012. The final penny per dollar was repealed on Monday.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says eliminating the final 1 percent will save West Virginia families an average of $52 a year. The legislation makes West Virginia one of 29 states that don’t tax food. The long-awaited food tax repeal also is of particular importance to communities that border neighboring states. Mercer County is a prime example. And Bluefield, in particular, has faced an uphill battle against the business-friendly Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to Bluefield, Va., the state line at Giles County also is a relatively short drive from the greater Princeton area for those families who may be looking for cheaper prices on gasoline or cigarettes.

That’s why the elimination of the food tax in West Virginia is important. It provides area families with another incentive to shop in the Mountain State. And that includes buying groceries in Princeton, Bluefield, Brushfork or Bluewell.

The sales tax will remain in effect for soft drinks, food bought from vending machines and prepared food. But the overall repeal of the tax on food and food ingredients is a good first step in helping to make West Virginia more competitive with business-friendly states such as Virginia.

And it will help shoppers too. Times are still tough, and any money folks can save on their grocery bill is good news.

The elimination of the food tax could provide another economic development tool for border communities such as Bluefield. And it provides another incentive for a grocery store chain, or business entrepreneur, to help fill the void left in Bluefield with the closure of Kroger in early 2012.

The food tax repeal is a positive step that will, in the long-term, help to put additional money back into the pockets of West Virginia families while also helping to gradually lower the tax burden on West Virginia businesses. But most importantly, it is another small step in helping to ensure that the Mountain State is, in fact, open for business.