Apr 26, 2022 - News

The Tennessee state budget has tax cuts for you

Illustration of the Tennessee State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The state budget on track to be signed by Gov. Bill Lee includes more than $418 million in tax cuts, including breaks designed to help citizens deal with rising inflation.

  • The budget, which has already passed the House and Senate, slashes the state portion of license plate registration fees for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
  • It also eliminates the tax on food items in the month of August.

By the numbers: The license plate fee reduction costs $121 million, and the grocery tax holiday carries an estimated price tag of $80 million.

  • Other tax cuts in the budget include:
    • $68 million: Broadband tax relief for one year
    • $9.7 million: Doctors eliminated from professional privilege tax
    • $3 million: Agriculture machinery and equipment
    • $320,000: Tax-free gun safes

Why it matters: Your grocery bill will be a little lighter in August, and you'll save about $20 on your car registration.

  • When Lee rolled out the grocery plan last month, he said "suspending the grocery tax is the most effective way to provide direct relief to every Tennessean."

Yes, but: Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) lamented last week during the finance committee debate over the budget that lawmakers didn't do more to help state workers shoulder the burden of inflation.

  • Yarbro says the state should harness the power of its recurring surplus, estimated to be $1.32 billion.

What he's saying: "Where this becomes real is that the actual cost of living for every state employee, every public school teacher, is up about 8.5% last month compared to March last year," Yarbro said during a finance committee discussion.

  • "We're not keeping up our pay increases for our state employees with just the basic rate of inflation."

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