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Illinois grocery tax returns after one-year freeze

CHAMPAIGN – July 1 marked the end of the year-long suspension of the Illinois Grocery Tax.

The freeze was intended to provide relief to consumers in the face of inflation. 

“The governor and the General Assembly decided the thing was we would freeze the 1% state sales tax on groceries for a year,” said State Senator Linda Holmes (D-DuPage, Kendall, Kane and Will Counties).

She said after the pandemic and increased cost of living, people needed some relief – but it was always meant to last a year.  

“It was done figuring a year would be a good cushion, and quite honestly, it was,” said Sen. Holmes.

She said she didn’t expect it to have a huge impact, but she believes it provided relief when needed.

“Did you feel it every time you went to the grocery store? Probably not,” said Sen. Holmes. “However, inflation rates dropped to the lowest they’ve been since March of 2021.”

One long-time Urbana resident, Mark Husler, said it saved him about seven percent on his groceries for the last year and as someone on a fixed income, he appreciates that relief. 

“I think it helps people who are on fixed incomes, anything that can be done to help people on fixed incomes, things aren’t getting better for them,”

Although he felt the year-long relief was beneficial, he and others felt that there was more to be done. 

“I maybe would have gone a little bit farther, particularly, you know, the fiscal situation was really good in this last fiscal year, we had a balanced budget,” said State Representative Mike Marron (R-Champaign/Vermilion Counties).

However, Sen. Holmes says she feels the criticism of its conclusion is unwarranted. 

“I thought it was fair that the one year that we’d put in there saying that it was going to be a year that it was allowed to end in the timeframe that was allotted to it,” said Holmes.

She said that just because they had a good fiscal year – doesn’t mean they should spend up all the money. 

“Obviously, there needed to be an end date to it,” said Sen. Holmes. “It’s like your household budget.”

She said that you never know what the future may hold and that they may need that money for a rainy day – especially since inflation rates are down. 

Marron said that although inflation rates are down – they aren’t down enough and he has fears for a potential recession. 

“I think anytime that we can provide long term tax relief, it’s something that needs to happen, and particularly right now, we’re not out of the woods yet on inflation,” said Rep. Marron. 

In the end, Sen Holmes says she prioritizes economic health and acknowledges not that everyone is going to have the same opinions.

“I guess that that’s the nature of our job. No matter what we do one way or the other. Somebody’s going to complain,” said Sen. Holmes.

Picture of Mae Antar

Mae Antar

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