I frequent a local coffee place. I normally pay with a credit card, but had cash today and used it. I was charged $2.11 for a food item that was listed for $1.99. This item is prepared and packaged by another local company. This seems akin to a supermarket selling a packaged meat from a different retailer.

If they are not supposed to charge sales tax, is that considered illegal? If it is, would the right thing to do be talking to the store management about it? Out of curiosity, if I did talk to them and they refused to fix it, what would be the next step?

Most of this is hypothetical; I'm not going to stop going there and have little personal concern about the additional $0.12 for this item.


1 Answer 1


On the merits, you are probably mistaken.

Usually, the distinction for sales tax purposes is not who prepared the item, but whether it is sold at retail for the purposes of immediate consumption without further preparation.

Also, it wouldn't be unusual for any food sold by a "restaurant" to count as taxable food rather than non-taxed food, limiting the privilege of selling unprepared food on a tax free basis at retail to stores with grocery store sales tax licenses which may be harder to get.

Practically speaking, there is pretty much nothing you can do if a store improperly administers the sales tax laws except to refrain from shopping there.

  • I'm not sure how one could ascertain whether a store was in fact remitting tax on such items to the state, but I would think that a store which collects sales tax in a borderline scenario would be obligated to remit that tax to the state, even if the store would not have been obligated to collect the tax.
    – supercat
    Commented May 21, 2023 at 21:26

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