Wednesday, November 01, 2023

No TN Sales Tax on Food, August - October, 2023: My Analysis & Commentary (published 11-1-2022; article #440)

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/28/2023, 3:00 PM -- before the 3:30 PM Georgia-Florida game and the 7 PM Tennessee-Kentucky game. Georgia and Tennessee both won!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, in particular, and I may have to stop eating so much peanut butter. The analysis and conclusion will explain!

Greetings, fellow diners, and welcome to the 109th article, under the “humor” topic section! Are you hungry for another article? Well, here it is! I'd thought about creating a new topic section, called “economy” or “money tree,” but let's just stick with “humor.” Peanut butter is sticky, after all!

This article recalls one that I'd published last year. You may wish to go back, through the mists of time, to read “August 2022 - No TN Sales Tax on Food Month (published 9-2-2022; article #352).” This year, the Tennessee government granted another sales tax holiday on food. It was from August through October.

This article jells together our August through October record, on food cost and sales tax saved. It then smooths the “butter and jelly” together, in my analysis. The conclusion looks for something cheaper than peanut butter!

I hope that you enjoy this “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” article! You may need some milk, at $4.99 a gallon, to wash it down!

Our August - October Record

How did my wife and I fair, for the three months, this year? Let's see. The following is my record. I recorded by month, date, location, grocery cost, sales tax saved, and number of grocery items purchased.


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
08/02/2023: IGA, Knox                $13.65      $0.85        3
08/04/2023: IGA, Knox                $78.22      $4.89      19
08/11/2023: IGA, Knox               $112.40      $7.03      21
08/17/2023: IGA, Knox              $104.84      $6.55      25
08/24/2023: Food City, Kodak     $11.68      $0.32        2
08/25/2023: IGA, Knox              $115.18      $7.20      24
August total:                            $435.97    $26.84      94


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
09/01/2023: IGA, Knox              $117.41      $7.34      24
09/02/2023: IGA, Knox                $11.15      $0.70        4
09/04/2023: IGA, Knox                $36.97      $2.31      11
09/08/2023: IGA, Knox              $102.92      $6.43      25
09/15/2023: IGA, Knox              $124.10      $7.76      25
09/22/2023: IGA, Knox              $120.41      $7.53      26
09/29/2023: IGA, Knox              $110.64      $6.92      25
09/29/2023: IGA, Knox                $20.84      $1.30        6
September total:                      $644.44    $40.29    146


Date/location                               Cost         Saved   # Items
10/06/2023: IGA, Knox              $123.65      $7.73     27
10/13/2023: IGA, Knox                $73.61      $4.60     14
10/19/2023: IGA, Knox              $105.30      $6.58     21
10/27/2023: IGA, Knox              $115.00      $7.19     28
October total:                           $417.56    $26.10     90

For the three months, we spent $1,497.97 on groceries. We saved $93.23 in sales tax. We bought 330 food items.


The previous section “spread the peanut butter on the bread.” This section “adds the jelly,” by my analysis. Let's check the state budget then our household budget.

Tennessee Budget

So, how much sales tax revenue did Tennessee lose? It's uncertain. I decided, for fun, to tell and then ask Microsoft's “Bing” (so-called artificial intelligence) the following: “The TN sales tax on food is 4%. TN county sales taxes vary, from 1.5% to 2.75%. Factoring those, from 8/1/2023 to 10/31/2023, how much sales tax revenue did TN lose, during the 8/1/2023 to 10/31/2023 TN sales tax holiday?” Bing's answer stated, in part, “. . . we can estimate the amount of sales tax revenue that Tennessee lost during the holiday period . . . $330 million.” (I don't know who the “we” are, in Bing's answer, unless that robot has a multiple personality disorder! You may get a different answer, if you ask “Bing” the same question.)

From “The Budget, Fiscal Year 2023-2024,” on TN Department of Finance & Administration (a 571-page online PDF document), I see that the 2024 fiscal year budget is $55.6 billion. The budget is balanced, unlike the USSA budget, unfortunately.

Bing's estimated sales tax loss, during the August through October tax holiday on food, divided by the 2024 fiscal budget is a loss of only about 0.5935%. That's a chump loss of revenue.

Our Budget

As stated previously, the bottom line, for August through October, is that my wife and I spent $1,497.97 on groceries. We bought 330 grocery items. We saved $93.23 in sales tax. That's an average sales tax savings of 6.22%.

So, how did we do, on average? From “Tennessee General Assembly Passes Tennessee Works Tax Act: Legislation Among Largest Tax Cuts in Tennessee History,” on TN Department of Revenue, 4/27/2023, I read the following: “From August through October 2023, Tennesseans will not pay tax on food and food ingredients sold in grocery stores. On average, each Tennessee family will save over $100 in taxes.” (The tax act, aside from the sales tax holiday on food, includes reductions on franchise and excise tax and on business tax.) We saved $6.77 less than the base estimate. We tried! Of course, I don't fall for the sales gimmick fallacy of “the more you spend, the more you save!”

The article of 9/2/2022, cited previously, states that our two-person annual food cost, in 2001, was $2,387.60, or $198.96 a month. In 2010, it was $3,149.59, or $261.80 monthly. Last year, in August, the cost, as stated in that article, was:

Total 08/2022 human food items: 123.
Total 08/2022 human food cost: $459.87. ($3.74 / human food item.)
Total 08/2022 TN sales tax not charged/”saved:” $29.38 (6.38%).

For all of 2022, our grocery cost totaled $5,825.36. That's $485.44 each month.

Calculations, from this August through October, indicate the following. The grocery cost, for my wife and me, averaged $499.32 a month. We were not charged a monthly average of $31.07 in sales tax. On a monthly basis, we bought 110 grocery items. The mean cost, of each grocery item, was $4.54.

A reader asks, “Are y'all buying too much of that costly and overly processed junk food?” My reply is: “Thanks for the question. We buy fruit, vegetables, lean meat, juice, bread, and so forth. We buy very little, if any, overly processed or junk food. It's not healthy.”

If you can enlarge the following photograph, it shows the IGA receipt, on 10/27/2023, when I got the groceries. The receipt includes two items, $8.57 total, for Molly, our ol' puppy, and three household items, $21.26 total. (We paid $2.76 sales tax, on those items.) The cost, for 28 human food items, was $115.00. We did not pay $7.19 in sales tax.

Aside from the eight-pack of 12-ounce bottled Cokes, at $6.50, I don't see any junk. I drink about a half bottle of Coke every day. Eight bottles lasts me a while. A 12-ounce bottle of Coke costs about 81 cents? Really? I can remember when a 12-ounce bottle of Coke costed 15 cents!

Can you see, on the receipt, the cost of the Jif peanut butter? I highlighted around it, in yellow. Two pounds and eight ounces (40 ounces) of peanut butter cost $8.99! That's about 22 cents an ounce! How could an ounce of peanut butter cost almost a quarter?

If a tablespoon is half an ounce, then two tablespoons are one ounce. If I use two tablespoons of peanut butter, to make a sandwich, then I've spent almost 25 cents! I didn't realize it, before writing this article!


A reader asks, “Yes, your annual cost of groceries has been increasing, but hasn't your household income increased, to match that?” The answer is, “Yes, it has, fortunately, by God's blessings and our hard work. I've done the math, however. I know that our annual cost of groceries has been increasing faster than our income.”

Based on analysis of our financial records, from 2001 through October 2023, I know how much our household income has increased. I also know how much our grocery bill has increased. I did the calculations. From 2001 through October 2023, our grocery bill has increased 19.39% faster than our income. That's an increasingly larger slice of the budget.

Groceries are only one example of inflation. I haven't even calculated the increases in, for example, gasoline, electricity, propane, all other utilities, insurance (automobile, health, homeowners), medical care, and major purchases (e.g., deck replacement, automobile, appliances, etc.). All these expenses continue to take bigger bites out of our total income.

What could we do with the $93.23 that we didn't spend, on sales tax? Should we stock up on peanut butter? No! My wife and I need to stop eating so much peanut butter! It's too expensive!

What could we stock up on that's cheaper than peanut butter? Do you have any suggestions?

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