While the West Virginia Legislature addresses a myriad of issues introduced during its 60-Day Regular Session, lawmakers also continue to seek out solutions in building the state’s economy. State Senator John Yoder, R-Jefferson, is among those who believe West Virginia sale taxes placed on food serves as an impetus for citizens to drive across borders to purchase groceries.
“The state of Virginia is presently moving to lower its food tax,” said Yoder. “The loss of sales to out-of-state vendors is a significant loss to the overall revenue of Mountain State coffers.”
The six percent sales tax presently charged to West Virginia consumers will seem exceedinly heavy to buyers who will have the option of buying food in Virginia for one and a half cents on the dollar, according to Yoder.
“Right now, Virginia has a four percent tax in place but will see it reduced to one and a half starting July, 1st.” Yoder said. “With gasoline taxes already about 10 cents a gallon cheaper in Virginia, state citizens have a double incentive to make the drive...fill up and stock up.”
Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, 29 border surrounding states. In addition, 60 percent of the population of West Virginia lives in border counties and most likely carrying 70 percent of the wealth, according to the Jefferson County Senator.
Governor Joe Manchin has proposed legislation allowing border counties to waive some state regulations for a two-year period but there is no mention of food taxes in the measure. It has been noted that West Virginians paid $150.1 million in sales tax on food during the 2004-04 fiscal year, according to the latest figures available.
“We talk about making the state competitive,” said Yoder, “My solution would be to eliminate the sales tax on food,” Yoder said, “ it could possible be removed by a few cents a year.”