Protein Bars and Sales Tax (US)

svel713
svel713 Posts: 141 Member
I found a new flavor of Pure Protein bars (Birthday Cake) when picking up a prescription at Walmart and had to get a box. I was surprised to see the bars were taxed like junk food. These have 20g protein and only 3g sugar, which sounds more like food macros to me.

I went on a search online and found sales tax on foods varies state by state. I still need to go to my main grocery and see if bars are taxed there.

Are protein bars taxed in your state?
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Replies

  • cdudley628
    cdudley628 Posts: 547 Member
    The only food taxed in my state is prepared food, typically at restaurants. I honestly don't look very often. I think rotisserie chickens from grocery stores get meal tax and I was surprised about that, but I rarely get taxed for food from a grocery store.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    edited May 2018
    Setting aside county and city taxes, which make it more confusing, food here gets a much lower 1% sales tax unless it's for immediate consumption, candy, or soda, in which case it gets taxed at the non food rate.

    Protein bars don't fit the definition of soda or for immediate consumption. Whether or not they meet the definition of candy depends on the ingredients (but often they do):

    "Candy" means 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 that contains flour or requires refrigeration.... Products whose ingredient list contain the word "flour", regardless of the type of flour (e.g., wheat, rice) are not candy. A product does not contain flour unless the product label specifically lists flour as an ingredient. Ingredients such as soy or whey that may be used in place of, or as a substitute for, flour are not considered to be flour for purposes of determining if the item qualifies as candy unless they are specifically labeled as flour in the ingredient list.

    Yes, this strikes me as ridiculous.
  • nickssweetheart
    nickssweetheart Posts: 904 Member
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.
  • bpetrosky
    bpetrosky Posts: 3,911 Member
    What state are you in that taxed the protein bar? I'm guessing one of two things are at play here:

    1. The state's definition of snack foods subject to the sales tax is broad enough to cover protein bars, or
    2. There's some ambiguity in the application of the law and whoever manages the store's POS system classified the protein bars as taxable to be on the safe side.
  • svel713
    svel713 Posts: 141 Member
    bpetrosky wrote: »
    What state are you in that taxed the protein bar? I'm guessing one of two things are at play here:

    1. The state's definition of snack foods subject to the sales tax is broad enough to cover protein bars, or
    2. There's some ambiguity in the application of the law and whoever manages the store's POS system classified the protein bars as taxable to be on the safe side.

    @bpetrosky
    I am in Kentucky and got those Pure Protein bars at Walmart.

    I went down the road just an hour ago and bought two protein bars at a Kroger. Neither were taxed.

    I couldn't find the Kentucky laws on taxable foods so I have no information to check which store is "right."
  • cmtigger
    cmtigger Posts: 1,450 Member
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    That was a big surprise to me when I moved there for a few years.
  • CarvedTones
    CarvedTones Posts: 2,340 Member
    edited May 2018
    This thread made me curious. I bought a Quest bar tonight on an impulse; I knew I had room for it in my calories allowance, I was short on protein for the day and I have never tried Quest even though I keep hearing/reading about it. I got a brownie bar. It was about the consistency and taste of a tootsie roll until I was about half through it and then I started getting a slight aftertaste. But it was pretty good. Anyway, that was at Academy Sports in NC and I got charged tax (just looked at the receipt). They aren't really a food store, so they may not have their POS system even taking that into consideration.
  • diannethegeek
    diannethegeek Posts: 14,776 Member
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    Same.
  • cmtigger
    cmtigger Posts: 1,450 Member
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    Same.

    This just showed up in my Facebook feed. Some legislators are trying to change it. http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180507/capitol-insider-podcast-efforts-to-lower-kansas-sales-tax-on-food-fails-for-lack-of-guts
  • bpetrosky
    bpetrosky Posts: 3,911 Member
    edited May 2018
    svel713 wrote: »
    bpetrosky wrote: »
    What state are you in that taxed the protein bar? I'm guessing one of two things are at play here:

    1. The state's definition of snack foods subject to the sales tax is broad enough to cover protein bars, or
    2. There's some ambiguity in the application of the law and whoever manages the store's POS system classified the protein bars as taxable to be on the safe side.

    @bpetrosky
    I am in Kentucky and got those Pure Protein bars at Walmart.

    I went down the road just an hour ago and bought two protein bars at a Kroger. Neither were taxed.

    I couldn't find the Kentucky laws on taxable foods so I have no information to check which store is "right."

    So I found this about Kentucky's sales tax on food. It looks like an interpretation difference between the two stores. If it's considered a "candy" or "dietary supplement" it would be taxable. Kroger is probably taking the stance that it's exempt with the majority of their sales in food, and the drug store categorized it as either a candy or a supplement and therefore non-exempt.

    If the two stores are in different jurisdictions it could also be a factor.
    In the state of Kentucky, the food exemption is applicable specifically to both food and food ingredients"""" which was intended for human consumption. However, this does not include candy, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, dietary supplements, pre-prepared food, or food which was sold through the use of vending machines.
    https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/kentucky/sales-tax-taxability/food-and-meals
  • nickssweetheart
    nickssweetheart Posts: 904 Member
    cmtigger wrote: »
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    Same.

    This just showed up in my Facebook feed. Some legislators are trying to change it. http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180507/capitol-insider-podcast-efforts-to-lower-kansas-sales-tax-on-food-fails-for-lack-of-guts

    Interesting. Guess it's time to write my congressman. I was also somewhat stunned to read that the state portion of the tax is 6.5% which means our local government is keeping around 2.5%. Yikes.
  • lynn_glenmont
    lynn_glenmont Posts: 9,525 Member
    cmtigger wrote: »
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    Same.

    This just showed up in my Facebook feed. Some legislators are trying to change it. http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180507/capitol-insider-podcast-efforts-to-lower-kansas-sales-tax-on-food-fails-for-lack-of-guts

    Interesting. Guess it's time to write my congressman. I was also somewhat stunned to read that the state portion of the tax is 6.5% which means our local government is keeping around 2.5%. Yikes.

    Your congressman has nothing to do with state and local sales taxes, other than potentially voting on whether states should be allowed to require remote sellers (like Amazon, eBay, etc.) to collect sales taxes for them.

    Why yikes? Do you think the local government is getting too much or too little? In most states, localities are responsible for school systems, libraries, local policing, local court system, maintaining all non-state and non-federal roads, local public health programs, possibly a bus or transit system, perhaps some programs for assisting low-income, disabled, and elderly residents, possibly some economic development programs...
  • malibu927
    malibu927 Posts: 17,567 Member
    cdudley628 wrote: »
    The only food taxed in my state is prepared food, typically at restaurants. I honestly don't look very often. I think rotisserie chickens from grocery stores get meal tax and I was surprised about that, but I rarely get taxed for food from a grocery store.

    That's how it is here (and a reason why rotisserie chicken cannot be purchased via SNAP...but I'm not going to start that argument). The only other exceptions are drinks that aren't milk, water, or 100% juice are also taxed. But say, if you go through the drive thru at McDonalds, you only pay tax on the soda as you aren't eating the food on the premises.
  • JeromeBarry1
    JeromeBarry1 Posts: 10,182 Member
    edited May 2018
    Wikipedia says:
    In Texas, food products are exempt from sales tax. Only fast food is taxed. The basic rate in Texas is 6.25%.

    Jerome Says: Cities and counties all over add 1% each so that everybody everywhere, except Round Rock, pays 8.25% sales tax. Round Rock is 1% less than Austin, and that's why all the big retail shops for Austin are in Round Rock.


    Legal Beagle says:
    Exempt Products
    The Texas Tax Code generally states that “food products for human consumption” are exempt from the state’s sales tax. The Texas Tax Code specifically designates cereals, poultry, milk, fish, vegetables, spices, condiments, fruits, sugars, salts, coffees and teas as exempt food. In addition to those foods, it exempts products derived from those items listed. For example, tomato sauce is exempt as a vegetable product. Any combination of the specifically mentioned foods is exempt from the state’s sales tax. Baked goods like pastries and donuts are exempt. In addition, meals prepared for school lunches, churches, hospitals and retirement homes are exempt.
    Non-Exempt Products
    The Texas Tax Code specifically places certain items outside of the exemption. These products include drugs, vitamins, medicines, soft drinks, candy, ice and artificial sweeteners. In addition, the sale of all food products prepared at restaurants, vending machines, cafeterias or other similar businesses does not enjoy the sales tax exemption. The exemption does not apply to food sales in prisons operated by or under contract with the state.
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,971 Member
    I honestly don’t pay attention. I pay sales tax on groceries that’s all I know. I think there is a state reduction for groceries but it’s still taxed.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,849 Member
    cdudley628 wrote: »
    The only food taxed in my state is prepared food, typically at restaurants. I honestly don't look very often. I think rotisserie chickens from grocery stores get meal tax and I was surprised about that, but I rarely get taxed for food from a grocery store.
    malibu927 wrote: »
    That's how it is here (and a reason why rotisserie chicken cannot be purchased via SNAP...but I'm not going to start that argument). The only other exceptions are drinks that aren't milk, water, or 100% juice are also taxed. But say, if you go through the drive thru at McDonalds, you only pay tax on the soda as you aren't eating the food on the premises.

    That one always kind of annoys me. (They are often sold cheaper than a raw chicken, whether as a loss leader item to attract shoppers or to recoup possible losses on aging raw chicken that might otherwise get discarded).

    Distilled water apparently gets taxed in New York. I annoyingly had to do the math on the entire receipt to figure out whether the "B" coded items (presumably for "beverage") are taxed/taxed at the same rate. (I bought $10+ worth of jugs for a piece of lab equipment along with some non-work stuff, so I had to calculate it out for the reimburse).
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,849 Member
    Most food items are tax-free in New York state (at least in Erie County).

    The Nature Valley/Special-K/Kellog/Clif/Aldi brands of protein and protein/fiber bars that I buy are tax-free here according to the few receipts I have at hand. (Wegmans and Aldi).

    Rotisserie chickens are taxed.

    I don't have any receipts with candy/candy bars to compare the tax rate.
  • Aaron_K123
    Aaron_K123 Posts: 7,121 Member
    edited May 2018
    I'm pretty sure all food in my state is taxed at the same 9.5% rate as everything else....be it a protein bar a gallon of milk or some gummy worms.
  • nickssweetheart
    nickssweetheart Posts: 904 Member
    cmtigger wrote: »
    I live in Kansas, and all food is taxed at regular sales tax rates which works out to around 9%. It's awful.

    Same.

    This just showed up in my Facebook feed. Some legislators are trying to change it. http://www.cjonline.com/news/20180507/capitol-insider-podcast-efforts-to-lower-kansas-sales-tax-on-food-fails-for-lack-of-guts

    Interesting. Guess it's time to write my congressman. I was also somewhat stunned to read that the state portion of the tax is 6.5% which means our local government is keeping around 2.5%. Yikes.

    Your congressman has nothing to do with state and local sales taxes, other than potentially voting on whether states should be allowed to require remote sellers (like Amazon, eBay, etc.) to collect sales taxes for them.

    Why yikes? Do you think the local government is getting too much or too little? In most states, localities are responsible for school systems, libraries, local policing, local court system, maintaining all non-state and non-federal roads, local public health programs, possibly a bus or transit system, perhaps some programs for assisting low-income, disabled, and elderly residents, possibly some economic development programs...

    I was thinking of my state representative, my mistake.

    Our local government has amazing programs and amazing schools, but my impression was they were primarily funded via property taxes. It's worth some research regardless.