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Complete State-by-State Guide to Food and Beverage Sales Tax

Want to know which states are taxing food and beverages in 2019? Like most tax-related questions, the answer isn't as clear cut as you'd hope. Across the US, states severely lack cohesion in how grocery items and drinks are taxed. Not only do states define 'food' and 'beverages' differently, many incorporate exemptions, which also vary from state-to-state.

To simplify your quest for answers, we compiled a comprehensive list of the 18 US states collecting food and beverage tax in 2019. Most tax at a state level and some collect local tax (city, county, etc.) in addition to state tax. This list is current as of June 13th, 2019.

Read on to learn:

  • Current tax rates for each state where food and beverages are considered taxable
  • Detailed explanations of how each state categorizes and defines and food and beverages
  • Specific food and beverage laws unique to that state
  • Links to state tax authority sites, and tax bulletins or documents where you can verify information

Before we dive into the details, we're going to cover a couple of broad food and beverage tax topics. If you're looking for info on a specific state and want to jump right in, use the link below to navigate to state-by-state details.


Go to the food and beverage sales tax state list

Food, Legally Defined

As explained above, all states define what constitutes 'food' and 'beverages' differently. As a starting point, let's take a look at how the dictionary defines these words and talk about broad tax categories that often apply to each.

  • Food
    Commonly known as 'any nutritious substance that people eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth.' When it comes to tax definitions, food is sometimes categorized by type (meat and meat products, vegetables and vegetable products). It's also sometimes categorized by function (intended for home consumption, sold by a restaurant or an in-store food counter).

  • Candy
    Typically defined as a sweet food made with sugar or syrup combined with fruit, chocolate, or nuts; candy is often categorized differently than food (and is sometimes taxed differently than food) because it doesn't have nutritional value.

  • Soda
    Broadly defined as, "carbonated water originally made with sodium bicarbonate; drunk alone or with liquor or wine." However, what is considered 'soda' varies vastly from state to state, especially when defining which drinks are taxable.


Go to the food and beverage sales tax state list

How the Streamlined Sales Tax Act (SSUTA) Affects Food Tax

The Streamlined Sales Tax Act was created to help businesses simplify state sales tax regulation compliance. One major goal of the SSUTA was to create uniform item and category definitions that would be used by all member states for tax purposes. Below, we'll explain how participating SSUTA states define food, soda, and candy.

  • Food and food ingredients
    Substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value. 'Food and food ingredients' does not include 'alcoholic beverages' or 'tobacco.'

  • Candy
    A preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. Candy does not include any preparation containing flour and shall require no refrigeration.

Some states tax candy but do not tax food, and the SSUTA uses flour as the sole ingredient to differentiate between food and candy. Items that contain flour, like Kit Kat® and Twix® bars, are considered food, thus are tax exempt in states that tax candy. Yes, even though these treats are literally called CANDY bars. Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups, on the other hand, do not contain flour, thus are considered (taxable) candy.


  • Soda
    A non-alcoholic beverage that contains natural or artificial sweeteners, does not contain milk or milk products, soy, rice, or similar milk substitutes, and does not contain more than 50% fruit or vegetable juice.

    This list seems pretty cut and dry. But, despite being very different, a variety of teas, non-alcoholic mixers, sports drinks, and even Pedialyte can be considered 'soda' or 'soft drinks'. And to really confuse the issue, states that don't participate in the SSUTA throw in their own tax definitions and caveats.

To date, 23 full member states are wholly compliant with the SSUTA, and Tennesee participates as an assiciate member state. That means while they have achieved substantial compliance with the terms of the agreement, the state doesn't follow every proivision outlined by the SSUTA.

Of these 24 states, 8 (Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennesee, and Utah) charge tax on food and beverages. While the SSUTA provides uniform definitions, it's still up to individual states to determine which items are taxable. Go to the food and beverage sales tax state list for details.


Go to the food and beverage sales tax state list

More Food Taxation Complications

In addition to having to meet strict definition criteria, the intended use of food and how it's prepared can also impact whether it's considered taxable.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Same Soda, Different Rate
    A soda sold from a cooler at a grocery store register checkout may be tax exempt, but that same soda may be taxed when purchased from the same establishment's in-store restaurant or food counter.

  • Hot and Ready vs. Ready for Reheating
    A hot, fresh box of grocery store chicken wings that are ready to be taken home and immediately served for dinner is often categorized and taxed differently than the same chicken wings sold one day later. Once food has been refrigerated and requires reheating, tax categories and tax rates often change.

Understanding the difference between food and food ingredients and prepared food is an important step in properly setting up payment systems and appropriately taxing food and beverages in your establishment.


Many foods that don't clearly fit a singular definition. To help, states create long lists of clarifying rules and categories. This level of detail can help businesses come to a more confident conclusion.

What a mess, right? Don't worry. Below, we'll explain how each state that charges tax on food, candy, and or soda defines each of the above. But first, it's worth mentioning which states don't impose a tax on any food products.

States with No Food Tax

There are currently 15 US states that don't charge sales tax on food, soda, or candy. Four of these states don't charge sales tax at all, and the other 11 consider all food and beverages exempt from sales tax.

States that currently do not charge tax on food include:

  • Alaska (no state sales tax of any kind)
  • Arizona (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Delaware (no state sales tax of any kind)
  • Louisiana (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Oregon (no state sales tax of any kind)
  • Massachusets (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Michigan (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Montana (no state sales tax of any kind)
  • Nebraska (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Nevada (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • New Hampshire (no state sales tax of any kind)
  • New Mexico (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • South Carolina (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Vermont (groceries exempt from sales tax)
  • Wyoming (groceries exempt from sales tax)

Now it's time for the list you've all been waiting for... our comprehensive state-by-state guide to food and beverage tax.

US-Map-SaaS-Tax

Jump to State
Alabama | Arkansas | Colorado | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois
Kansas | Maine | Mississippi | Missouri | North Carolina | Oklahoma
South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennesee | Utah | Virginia

18 States That Tax Food in 2019

1. Alabama

Food Tax Facts
Food has been taxed in Alabama since the US voted general taxation into law in 1939. Much of Alabama's food tax money goes to support the state's education programs, so politicians continually hesitate to make changes without having an alternative tax in place to take over.

Food Tax Rate
Food items, food ingredients, and prepared foods are all taxed at the general state rate of 4%, + any applicable local rates, which range from 1% to 7%. In many locations, food tax adds up to 9% or more.

Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions

"Food" refers to all articles of food, drink, confectionery, or condiment, whether simple, mixed, or compound, used or intended for use by man or domestic animals.

Unique Food Laws
Food sold in vending machines is taxed at a reduced rate of 3%.

More Information
Alabama Department of Revenue | Food Tax | Back to State List


2. Arkansas

Food Tax Facts
Arkansas is a full member SSUTA state. As of January 1, 2019, the state's grocery tax dropped from 1.5% to 0.125%. Groceries are taxed differently than prepared food, soda, and candy.

Food Tax Rate
Groceries are taxed at .125%, but prepared foods, soda, and candy are taxed at the general state rate of 6.5%. All of the above are subject to applicable local state tax rates.

To calculate an accurate grocery tax rate, look up local rates for your zip code, subtract the state rate of 6.5%, and add .125%. For prepared foods, simply search a zip code to get your rate.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, Arkansas uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

"Prepared food" is defined as 1; food sold in a heated state (heated by the seller), 2; food with two or more ingredients combined by the seller and sold as a single item, or 3; food sold with eating utensils, plates, bowls, cups, napkins, or straws provided by the seller. Prepared food is taxable at the full base + applicable local tax rates.

Prepared food does not include food that contains raw animal products that require cooking by the consumer prior to consumption or food that is only cut, pasteurized, or repackaged by the seller.

Unique Food Laws
On January 1, 2018, the state passed a law stating that candy and soft drinks no longer qualify as food or food ingredients, and were no longer eligible to be taxed at a reduced rate.

Other foods that are not eligible for the lower grocery tax rate include bakery items made by the seller, ready-to-drink coffee, fountain drinks, pet foods, salad bar meals, food items including cakes or cookies decorated by the seller, dietary supplements, food heated or combined by the seller (i.e. deli trays), and one or more prepared food item sold at a non-itemized price.

Where to Get More Food Tax Information
Arkansas Dept of Finance | Legal Details | Back to State List


3. Colorado

Food Tax Facts
Colorado is a unique state as far as food tax is concerned because most items are exempt. However, the state has determined a very specific list of non-tax-exempt food items, which are listed under 'unique food laws' below.

Food Tax Rate
Varies by zip code. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates.

Food Definitions
“Food” means any food or food product for home consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, hot foods or hot food products ready for immediate consumption.

Unique Food Laws
The following items are taxable at the state rate of 2.9% + applicable local tax:

  • carbonated water marketed in containers
  • soft drinks
  • chewing gum
  • candy
  • seeds and plants to produce food for human consumption
  • prepared salads and salad bar items
  • cold sandwiches
  • deli trays
  • hot and cold beverages in unsealed containers sold by vending machine

Food used by a business or commercial entity, such as coffee or bottled water served to customers or employees, is subject to state sales tax.

More Information
Colorado Dept of Revenue | Colorado Food Tax | Back to State List


4. Georgia

Food Tax Facts
Georgia is a full member SSUTA state. Georgia doesn't charge state sales tax on grocery items but does charge local (county, city, etc) tax on food sales.

Food Tax Rate
Local tax rates vary by location. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code and subtract the state base rate of 4% to get the local rate.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, Georgia uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

Prepared food generally means food: 1; sold in a heated state or heated by the seller, 2; with two or more food ingredients mixed or combined by the seller for sale as a single item, or 3; food sold with eating utensils provided by the seller, including plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups, napkins, or straws. A container or packaging used to transport the food does not count as a plate.

More Information
Georgia Dept of Revenue | Food Sales Tax Info | Back to State List


5. Hawaii

Food Tax Facts
The state of Hawaii has no official sales tax, but they do have a gross receipt and use tax, commonly referred to as GET tax. GET tax, which is 4% throughout most of Hawaii, and 4.5% on Oahu - is required for almost all transactions and is imposed on businesses rather than the buyers. However, the state allows businesses to pass along as much as 4.712% of their total tax to buyers, so almost all of them do, which in essence makes GET tax the same as sales tax.

Food Tax Rate
Hawaii's 4% get tax applies to all types of food, beverage, and grocery items, including food ingredients, prepared foods, and candy and soda.

Food Definitions
“Food and food ingredients” means substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

Unique Food Laws
Food sold in vending machines is taxed at a reduced rate of 3%.

More Information
Hawaii Dept of Taxation | Back to State List


6. Idaho

Food Tax Facts
Groceries, food ingredients, prepared food, candy, and soda are all treated the same and are all subject to sales tax. Individual tax credits help residents reduce the financial burden of food taxation.

Food Tax Rate
Groceries, candy, and soda are all taxed at the state's 6% base tax rate. Some Idaho cities have local sales tax in addition to state sales tax, which can raise the tax rate up to as much as 8.5%. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
“Food and food ingredients” means substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

Unique Food Laws
The grocery tax credit helps offset sales tax paid on groceries throughout the year. Even Idahoans who don’t make enough money to file an income tax return can get a grocery credit refund.

Both the credit and the refund are $100 for most Idaho residents, plus $100 for each of their qualifying dependents. Residents 65 or older generally get $20 more.

More Information
Idaho State Tax Commission | Tax Credit Info | Back to State List


7. Illinois

Food Tax Facts
Grocery items are treated differently than candy, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and prepared food.

Food Tax Rate
The state's base tax rate is 6.5%. Grocery items are not tax exempt, but they are taxable at a reduced rate of 1%. Candy, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and food prepared for immediate consumption do not qualify for the 1% rate and are taxed at the state's full 6.5% base rate.

Food Definitions
The state suggests considering the following two factors to determine whether food should be taxed at the 6.25% 'food prepared for immediate consumption' rate or the 1% 'food prepared for consumption off the premises where it's sold' rate.

  • 1. Does the retailer selling the food provide a premises for consumption of the food?
    If yes, all food sales by that retailer are considered prepared for immediate consumption. The only way to work around this is to have an area that is physically separated and distinguishable from the area where food not for immediate consumption is sold. In this case, the retailer must also have separate means of recording and accounting for the collection of receipts from sales of both high and low rate foods.

  • 2. What is the nature of the food item being sold?
    For example, hot foods are always considered to be food prepared for immediate consumption, making them subject to the higher tax rate.

More Information
Illinois Dept of Revenue | Food Tax Rates FAQ | Back to State List


8. Kansas

Food Tax Facts
Kansas is a full member SSUTA state. Food, including candy and soda, is taxable at the base state rate + applicable local rates.

Food Tax Rate
The base state rate is 6.50%, and local rates vary from 0%-4.1%. Food, as defined below, is taxable. Candy and soda are also taxable. tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, Kansas uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

Unique Food Laws
In March 2019, Senate Bill 22 proposed to cut the sales tax on food from 6.5% to 5.5%. It made it through the house and landed on the Governor's desk, where it was vetoed with no motion to reconsider.

Food sold to groups providing meals to the elderly and homebound, and food sold by a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization under a program that sells food below cost in exchange for community service are exempt from tax.

More Information
Kansas Dept of Revenue | Food Exemption Details | Back to State List


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9. Maine

Food Tax Facts
Maine's tax laws surrounding food seem pretty straightforward at first, but when you get into the details, you'll find that there are actually a lot of exemptions and stipulations.

Food Tax Rate
Prepared food and alcoholic drinks sold in establishments licensed for on-premises consumption of liquor is taxed at 8%. Grocery staples sold for human consumption are exempt from the state sales tax, but there are many items that are not considered 'staples'.

Food Definitions
Maine goes deep with their definitions, so bear with us here.

Maine law defines “grocery staples” as “food products ordinarily consumed for human nourishment” and exempts them from Maine sales tax. Taxable items not considered grocery staples include:

  • Confectionery spreads, such as marshmallow fluff and crème, and chocolate spreads
  • powdered and liquid drink mixes except powdered milk, infant formula, coffee and tea
  • salads (not prepared by the retailer)
  • supplemental meal items such as corn chips, potato chips, crisped vegetable or fruit chips, potato sticks, pork rinds, pretzels, crackers, popped popcorn, cheese sticks, cheese puffs and dips
  • fruit bars, granola bars, trail mix, breakfast bars, rice cakes, popcorn cakes, bread sticks and dried sugared fruit
  • nuts and seeds that have been processed or treated by salting, spicing, smoking, roasting or other means (does not include peanut butter)
  • desserts and bakery items, including but not limited to doughnuts, cookies, muffins, dessert breads, pastries, croissants, cakes, pies, ice cream cones, ice cream, ice milk, frozen confections, frozen yogurt, sherbet, ready-to-eat pudding, gelatins and dessert sauces
  • meat sticks, meat jerky, and meat bars.
  • macaroni and potato salad, and coleslaw
  • quarts of ice cream
  • sales of 6 or more doughnuts, muffins, cookies, pastries, or bagels

"Candy" is defined as “a preparation of sugar, honey or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops or pieces.”

"Soft drinks" are defined as “nonalcoholic beverages that contain natural or artificial sweeteners. ‘Soft drinks’ does not include beverages that contain milk or milk products; that contain soy, rice or similar milk substitutes; or that contain greater than 50% vegetable or fruit juice by volume.”

The definition of “prepared food” contains three categories:

  1. Meals served on or off the premises of the retailer.
    This category includes sandwiches (whether prepared by the retailer or by someone else) and heated food. However, fully-cooked frozen sandwiches are not considered “prepared food” and are therefore subject to the general sales tax rate.

    2. All food and drink prepared by the retailer and ready for consumption without further preparation.
    This includes food products that are not individually prepackaged for resale and that are served from self-serve areas (such as salad bars and “coffee nooks”) designed to offer customers food for immediate consumption. It also includes food prepared for sale in a heated state regardless of cooling that may have occurred, such as pizza or rotisserie chicken. Furthermore, it includes bakery items such as cookies, donuts, bagels, etc., that are prepared by the retailer, as well as deli and bakery platters, such as cold cuts, cheeses, appetizers, finger rolls, bakery products, crackers, and fruits or vegetables.

    “Without further preparation” means that the product does not require boiling, frying, grilling, baking or cooking. “Further preparation” does not include toasting, microwaving, or otherwise heating a product for palatability (rather than for the purpose of cooking the product).

    3. Establishments that primarily serve food and drinks.
    All food and drink sold by a retailer at a particular retail location when the sales of food and drinks at that location that are prepared by the retailer account for more than 75% of the gross receipts.

The definition of “prepared food” excludes “bulk sales of grocery staples.” Other than deli and bakery platters, “prepared food” does not include cutting and repackaging a grocery staple. For example, a pound of ham sliced from the
deli case as requested by the customer, or fruits/vegetables that are cut and repackaged in cups or bowls, are exempt “grocery staples.” Food products ordinarily consumed for human nourishment.

More Information
Maine Dept of Revenue | Exempt Food Details | Back to State List


10. Mississippi

Food Tax Facts
Food, including candy and soda, is taxable at the base state rate + applicable local rates.

Food Tax Rate
The base state rate is 7%, and local rates vary from 0%-4.1%. All food, as defined below, is taxable.

Food Definitions
Mississippi taxes most common grocery type food items and foods packaged by a manufacturer for home consumption.

Unique Food Laws
The gross proceeds of retail sales of food and drink for human consumption made through vending machines serviced by full line vendors located apart from and not connected with other taxable businesses are tax exempt.

Food products that are grown, made, or processed in Mississippi and sold from farmers' markets that have been certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce are tax exempt.

Many counties and municipalities have enacted additional taxes on food, beverages, and accommodations know as local tourism and economic development taxes.

More Information
Mississippi Dept of Revenue | Food Tax Details | Back to State List


11. Missouri

Food Tax Facts
Missouri taxes groceries at a reduced rate.

Food Tax Rate
The state's base tax rate is 4.225%, but most grocery items are taxed at a reduced rate of 1.225%. The 3% reduction applies to all types of food items that may be purchased with Food Stamps. All local sales taxes apply to all food and beverage sales.

Food Definitions
Groceries include "food or food products" for home consumption, seeds, and plants for use in gardens to produce food for personal consumption, and food items refrigerated or at room temperature.

Unique Food Laws
Except for vending machine sales, the reduced rate for food doesn't apply to food or drink sold establishments where 80% or more of their gross receipts are for the sale of food prepared for immediate consumption. This rule applies regardless of whether the prepared food is consumed on the premises of that establishment or not.

More Information
Missouri Dept of Revenue | Food Tax Rates FAQ | Back to State List


12. North Carolina

Food Tax Facts
North Carolina is a full member SSUTA state. The state categorizes food as either 'qualifying' or 'nonqualifying,' and these categories are subject to different tax rates.

Food Tax Rate
Grocery items are exempt from state sales tax but are subject to local taxes at a uniform reduced rate of 2%.

The retail sale and purchase for storage, use, or consumption of non-qualifying food is subject to general state and applicable local and transit sales and use tax. This rate varies by location.

Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code. The number you see will be accurate for non-qualifying foods. To calculate an accurate rate for qualifying food, subtract 2.75% from the number shown.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, North Carolina uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

  • Qualifying food includes groceries and grocery and bakery items sold without eating utensils.

  • Non-qualifying food includes dietary supplements, food sold through a vending machine, prepared food, other than bakery items sold without eating utensils by an artisan bakery, soft drinks, and candy.

Unique Food Laws
The sales price of or the gross receipts derived from prepaid meal plans are subject to general state and applicable local and transit sales and use tax.

More Information
North Carolina Dept of Revenue | Food Tax | Back to State List


13. Oklahoma

Food Tax Facts
Oklahoma is a full member SSUTA state. The state doesn't differentiate between prepared food, groceries, candy, and soda for tax purposes. All of the above are taxable.

Food Tax Rate
Both grocery-type food items and food and drink sold in restaurants are taxed at the full state rate of 4.5% plus any applicable local rates. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, Oklahoma uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

More Information
Oklahoma Tax Commission | Food Tax Details | Back to State List


14. South Carolina

Food Tax Facts
South Carolina stopped charging sales tax on groceries in 2007. However, prepared food is taxable.

Food Tax Rate
Prepared food sold for consumption on premises is taxed at the state's 6% general sales rate + applicable local taxes. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
Prepared food is defined as 1; food sold in a heated state (heated by the seller), 2; food with two or more ingredients combined by the seller and sold as a single item, or 3; food sold with eating utensils, plates, bowls, cups, napkins, or straws provided by the seller.

Prepared food does not include food that contains raw animal products that require cooking by the consumer prior to consumption or food that is only cut, pasteurized, or repackaged by the seller.

Unique Food Laws
Unprepared food that can be purchased with federal food stamps is exempt from state sales and use tax, but may be subject to local sales and use taxes.

More Information
South Carolina Dept of Revenue | Food Tax Rates | Back to State List


15. South Dakota

Food Tax Facts
South Dakota is a full member SSUTA state. doesn't differentiate between groceries, prepared food, candy, or soft drinks for tax purposes.

Food Tax Rate
Grocery items, as well as prepared food and drinks sold in eating establishments, are subject to the full state sales tax rate of 4.5%. Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, South Dakota uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

Unique Food Laws
Food purchased with food stamps is exempt from the state sales tax.

More Information
South Dakota Dept of Revenue | Sales Tax Guide | Back to State List


16. Tennesee

Food Tax Facts
Tennesee is an associate member SSUTA state. All foods are taxable in Tennesee, but grocery items are taxed at a reduced rate.

Food Tax Rate
The sales tax rate on food and food ingredients is 4%. Prepared food, dietary supplements, candy, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco are subject to the general state sales tax rate of 7% + applicable local tax.

Use our tax rate calculator to check rates by zip code.

Food Definitions
As an associate member state, Tennesee uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

More Information
Tennesee Dept of Revenue | Food Tax Rates | Back to State List


17. Utah

Food Tax Facts
Utah is a full member SSUTA state. Of all the states on this list, Utah has the most detailed food tax details on their Tax Commission website. If you have any questions whatsoever, check out the links under 'More Information' and you'll most likely find your answer.

Food Tax Rate
Grocery-type food items are taxed at a reduced rate of 3%, while prepared foods are generally taxed at the full state rate of 4.7%.

Food Definitions
As a full member state, Utah uses the SSUTA definition of food. "Food and food ingredients" are substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried, or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value.

"Grocery food" includes items sold without eating utensils by a food maker (other than a bakery and tortilla maker), items sold singly and unheated by weight or volume, and bakery items (bagel, bar, biscuit, bread, bun, cake, cookie, croissant, danish, donut, muffin, pastry, pie, roll, tart, torte or tortilla). A container or packaging used to transport food is not considered an eating utensil. Grocery food does not include alcoholic beverages, tobacco or prepared food.

"Prepared food" is 1; Food sold in a heated state or heated by a seller, or two or more food ingredients mixed or combined by the seller for a single sale. 2; Food sold with an eating utensil provided by the seller (plate, knife, fork, spoon, glass, cup, napkin, or straw, etc.).

Prepared food does not include:
Food that a seller only cuts, repackages, or pasteurizes
raw eggs, raw fish, raw meat, raw poultry, or food containing these items if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises buyers to cook the items to prevent foodborne illness.

Unique Food Laws
In counties that impose the tourism tax, it does not apply to food sales from deli areas, pizza take-out counters or salad bars within a grocery store or convenience store whose primary business is the sale of fuel or food not prepared for immediate consumption. These sales are exempt from the tourism tax even if the store has seats or stools for customers. However, if a grocery or convenience store has a full-service restaurant, the tourism tax is due on sales in that restaurant.

More Information
Utah State Tax Commission | Food Tax Flow Chart | Back to State List


18. Virginia

Food Tax Facts
Virginia taxes food and food ingredients at a reduced rate, but the reduced rate does not apply to prepared foods.

Food Tax Rate
Food purchased for home consumption is taxed at a reduced rate of 2.5% (1.5% state, 1% local in select areas). This reduced rate only applies to grocery items and cold prepared foods packaged for home consumption, not for hot prepared foods sold for immediate consumption.

Food is not eligible for the reduced rate when:
1). Gross receipts from the sale of food for immediate consumption constitutes more than 80% of the total gross receipts of the establishment
2). A retail establishment that also sells motor fuel shall include these sales towards its total gross receipts
Because food sold by most fast food establishments and restaurants does not qualify for the reduced rate due to the 80% rule, it is not necessary to keep separate records for take-out orders.

Food Definitions
"Food for home consumption by humans," as defined under the Food Stamp Act of 1977, 7 U.S.C. § 2012, qualifies for the reduced sales tax rate. The definition includes most staple grocery food items and cold prepared foods packaged for home consumption. Specifically excluded from the definition of food for home consumption are alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and prepared hot foods sold for immediate consumption on and off the premises. The reduced sales and use tax rate does not apply to seeds and plants which produce food for human consumption.

The reduced sales tax rate applies to foods that are deemed eligible under the federal food stamp definition without regard to the nature of the retailer making the sale of the food or whether the retailer participates in the federal food stamp program administered by the USDA.

Generally, the following retailers should charge the reduced sales tax rate on sales of eligible food and beverages: bakeries, cafes, cafeterias, convenience stores, delicatessens, department stores, diners, doughnut and pastry shops, drug and sundry stores, farmer's markets, grocery stores, ice cream shops, lunch counters, mail order companies, supermarkets, sandwich shops, snack bars, specialty meat and produce stores, video stores, and weight reduction establishments.

Unique Food Laws
Some vendors are presumed sellers of food for immediate consumption and may not impose the reduced sales tax rate on sales of eligible foods. These include caterers, concession vendors, entertainment facilities (theme parks, sports arenas, stadiums), fair and carnival vendors, gift shops, hamburger and hot dogs stands, honor snack vendors, ice cream stands and trucks, mobile food vendors, movie theaters, newsstands, and vending machine vendors.

Generally, food for home consumption sold by convenience stores qualifies for the reduced rate.

More Information
Virginia Tax Website | Food Tax Details | Back to State List


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