‘Meals tax’ to hit grocery items never before taxed

Details on the “meals tax,” included in the Democrat state budget set to go into effect Oct. 1, have Shelton’s state representatives warning residents about the potential cost increases when hitting the grocery store.

According to a Department of Revenue Services (DRS) policy statement issued this week, the Democrat-approved 7.35 percent tax will be applied to a long list of food items that have never been taxed when sold in grocery stores before.

“This is a major tax hike that will hurt every Connecticut taxpayer,” said state Rep. Jason Perillo. “We all have to buy these products on a weekly or daily basis and no matter if it is 1 percent or 10 percent more it adds up.”

The tax will apply to not only prepared meals such as sandwiches, deli salads, pizza and hot buffet items, but also 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.”

“This is the start of taxing every single thing you buy at the grocery store,” added state Rep. Ben McGorty. “The majority party and the governor tried to pull a quick one on the residents of Connecticut and it didn’t work.”

Earlier this year, Democrat lawmakers labeled the new tax as only a 1 percent tax increase on items already taxed at 6.35 percent, but the DRS statement clarifies that the new 7.35 percent tax will also apply to many food items that have never been taxed at all before when sold in grocery stores.

The DRS document explains that items sold at restaurants and eateries currently taxed at 6.35 percent will see a 1 percent tax increase. It also clarifies that the total 7.35 percent tax rate will also be effective in grocery stores, “which previously taxed meals in a different manner than other eating establishments.”

Examples of taxable “meals” according to DRS (will be taxed at 7.35 percent 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 (five or fewer);

• Cookies sold loose (five 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;

• Smoothies;

• 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

Examples of Taxable Drinks According to DRS (will be taxed at 7.35 percent in eating establishments and grocery stores):

• Beer, including nonalcoholic beer;

• 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;

• Milkshakes;

• Hot chocolate;

• Syrup-flavored crushed ice drinks; and

• Wine.