WV State Delegate Patrick Lane, (R-Kanawha) knows how to get rid of West Virginia’s food tax and stay out of the poorhouse all at the same time.
“It is time for everyone to finally decide whether they represent the people who write thousand dollar checks during campaigns, or whether they represent the people who have nothing to give but a vote and a thank-you,” said Lane.
The state’s food tax was implemented in the 1970’s and repealed then reinstated many times throughout the years. The tax was always meant to be temporary, but the many attempts to abolish it throughout the years never transpired. Lane said the Republicans have been trying to repeal the food tax for the past six to eight years, but that each time the Democrats couldn’t decide what programs to cut.
Instead of fighting over what services to cut, this bill would create the money to be able to eliminate the food tax, explained Lane. He considers the food tax the most regressive tax the state has and also stated that the food tax equals one week’s salary for most families. Only eight states fully tax food, and of WV’s five border states, only WV fully taxes food.
“There are a million people in West Virginia living in border counties. Those million people are crossing the border to buy groceries. We are definitely losing income, and who even knows how much?” said Lane.
The bill Lane is co-sponsoring, HB 2930, would apply to groceries and not fast foods or restaurants. The plan would call for the current 6 cent tax on each $1 to be eliminated completely starting July 1, 2005 and tax the slot bets at state racetracks. There will be a $150 million loss in revenue once the sales tax is removed, but the proposed tax on slot machines would generate $150 million, so no state income would be lost.
“This is absolutely a wash, fiscally,” said Lane. He stated that an overwhelming majority of those patronizing the state racetracks are from outside West Virginia. Lane also believes that these people must obviously have the discretionary income to come and gamble, so he would rather take care of the state’s residents by finally abolishing the tax that plagues every citizen, since everyone has to buy food.