That’s the number of states that tax groceries; with stable budget conditions prevailing across most of the country, several states are considering scrapping their food tax. While most Americans pay no state sales tax on groceries, shoppers in Mississippi and Tennessee fork over to state tax collectors the equivalent of more than three weeks’ worth of foodstuffs a year. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, and Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, both want to dump the sales tax on food. “No one should be taxed for buying basic food necessities,” Lingle said in a statement when she unveiled a comprehensive tax package Jan. 18. Lingle and Beebe both bank on budget surpluses to fill the holes their proposals would make in their state budgets. Lingle wants to eliminate Hawaii’s 4 percent sales tax on food. In his State of the State address, Beebe called it a “moral charge” to eventually rid the state of the tax, starting with halving the current 6 percent rate. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.