HARTFORD – State Representative Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck), a House Republican Whip, joined fellow Republicans for a press conference to inform the public about a 7.35% “Meal Tax” included in the Democrats’ latest budget that will affect a number of groceries never taxed before, according to the Department of Revenue Services.
“So many of us rely on prepared meals to feed our families during the week as we juggle work, commuting, children, and so much more,” Rep. Rebimbas said. “Now, Democrats are telling us that we should be paying taxes for a sandwich, a deli salad or a pizza, simply to help cover up their decades-long spending spree that continues to put our state budgets in deficit. I know for thousands of my constituents, this added expense at the checkout counter will stretch their household budgets to the limit, and that is not fair to ask of people who are already giving so much of their hard earned income to an oversized state government. The governor proposed a grocery tax earlier this year, which he quickly walked back after receiving public criticism, but in the end, legislative Democrats found a way to include it in the budget.”
According to a Department of Revenue Services policy statement issued this week, the Democrat-approved 7.35% tax will be applied to a long list of food items that have never been taxed when sold in grocery stores before.
The tax will apply to not only prepared meals such as sandwiches, deli salads, pizza and hot buffet items, but also containers of lettuce, small packages of snacks, loose baked goods, wrapped salads, small servings of ice cream, and meal replacement bars. It also applies to fountain drinks including coffee and any beverage sold with a taxable “meal.”
Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers labeled the new tax as only a 1% tax increase on items already taxed at 6.35%, but the DRS statement clarifies that the new 7.35% tax will also apply to many food items that have never been taxed at all before when sold in grocery stores. The policy also results in a tax increase on all food items sold by restaurants and eating establishments.
The DRS document explains that items sold at restaurants and eateries currently taxed at 6.35% will see a 1% tax increase. It also clarifies that the total 7.35% tax rate will also be effective in grocery stores, “which previously taxed meals in a different manner than other eating establishments.”
DRS Examples of Taxable “Meals” (taxed at 7.35% in eating establishments AND grocery stores):
- Sandwiches, grinders, and wraps;
- Popsicles, ice cream cones, cups, sundaes, and other individual servings of frozen desserts unless sold in factory prepackaged multi-unit packs;
- Ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other frozen desserts sold in containers of less than one pint;
- Salads sold at salad bars;
- Lettuce or greens-based salads sold in containers of 8 ounces or less;
- Salads that are not greens-based (macaroni, potato, pasta, fruit, etc.) sold in containers of 8 ounces or less;
- Donuts, muffins, rolls, bagels, and pastries (5 or fewer);
- Cookies sold loose (5 or fewer when cookies are sold by quantity, or less than 8 ounces when cookies are sold by weight);
- Pies or cakes by the slice;
- Prepackaged or factory-sealed bags or packages of 5 ounces or less of chips, popcorn, kettle corn, nuts, trail mix, crackers, cookies, snack cakes, or other snack foods, unless sold in factory prepackaged multi-unit packs;
- Pizza, whole or by the slice;
- Cooked chicken sold by the piece, including buckets of chicken, and whole cooked chickens;
- Cooked ribs sold by the piece or portion and whole racks of ribs;
- Hot dogs served on a bun or heated;
- Bagels that are individually prepared;
- Soup sold in containers of 8 ounces or less, unless sold in factory prepackaged units;
- Meal replacement bars;
- All beverages provided with the sale of a taxable meal;
- Food sold at a hot buffet;
- Food that is cooked to order;
- Popcorn, kettle corn, nuts and any other snack foods that are kept warm for purchase; and
- Items such as salads, side dishes, and rolls, when sold as part of family pack meals typically including, whole chickens or buckets of chicken, when prepared and sold for immediate consumption, even when the items exceed the weight or quantity limits specified above.
DRS Examples of Taxable Drinks (taxed at 7.35% in eating establishments AND grocery stores):
- Beer, including nonalcoholic beer; & wine
- Fruit juices, sweetened beverages, soft drinks, and soda;
- Carbonated water;
- Coffee or tea (ready to consume, hot or iced);
- Distilled alcohol such as brandy, rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila;
- Fountain drinks of any kind;
- Hard cider;
- Kombucha tea, and other naturally carbonated beverages;
- Malt liquor;
- Hot chocolate;
- Syrup-flavored crushed ice drinks.