New Grocery Tax Can Be Confusing

JONESBORO, AR -- The tax on some groceries in Arkansas has gone down to three-percent but the tax on some things stayed the same.  That has caused some confusion over how much tax on some things stayed the same.

There's some confusion over how much tax you pay for your groceries.  "I don't know that much about it but what I have heard about it it's confusing," said shopper Roy Frazier.

Hays store manager Rodney Clayton said he and his staff trying to make sure their customers understand the altered tax.

"We have had some customers inquire about it and we have had to explain it to some of the other customers," said Clayton.

Under the new grocery tax some things are taxed and others aren't.

"If you buy a salad prepared out of the deli then that is at a higher tax, whereas if you buy something that comes straight from the manufacturer, like a bagged salad, then that is at a lower tax," said Clayton.

Another loophole in the tax break is that any food prepared by the grocery store still has the higher tax.

Also, you can buy whole fruits and chopped fruits of the same variety for the 3% tax, but if you try to buy mixed chopped fruit you will pay the old tax.

"I don't think it's as much of a savings as people thought it would be when it's broken up into prepared items and non prepared items.  It creates a false sense of security," said Clayton.

Since the savings is so small what difference has it made?

"I only spent $10 so I only saved eight or nine cents, but every penny counts," said shopper Jeff Clack.

Those pennies will add up to about $50 a year for most Arkansans. It's a savings that should really come in handy during the holiday seasons.

"It'll save a lot around the holidays when people buy the high ticket items," said Clayton.

Other items this change in the grocery tax will impact are groceries sold at convenience stores.  If you buy a prepackaged sandwich at the store you will pay the new lower tax rate, but if you get a fork and napkin handed to you by the cashier you would be charged the old tax because they helped "prepare" the meal.