June 22, 2018
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Take the food tax quiz

By Lindsay Tice, Sun Journal

Maine’s snack tax is gone, but in its place is a tax on … snacks.¬†Five bakery doughnuts can be subject to sales tax; six are tax free. A small container of milk is tax free at the convenience store but taxed at a sandwich shop. Think you know Maine taxes? Try this quiz.

Tax or not taxed?

1) It’s been a long day, you’re tired, and you just can’t imagine making a full meal, so you stop by the grocery store and pick up a cooked whole rotisserie chicken at the deli. Taxed or not taxed?

2) It’s cold and flu season. Your local pharmacy is offering a free box of tissues if you use the store coupon found in its weekly flier. Taxed or not taxed?

3) Junior is screaming for a candy bar at the grocery store and you finally give in. Taxed or not taxed?

4) You stop at the bakery and pick up a box of a dozen doughnuts for a meeting at work. Before you leave, the cinnamon-sugar smell entices you to buy just one for yourself to eat on the commute. Both taxed, neither taxed or one taxed?

5) You grab a small bottle of milk to go with that doughnut. Taxed or not taxed?

6) It’s Super Bowl weekend and you’re stocking up on goodies. You fill your grocery cart with giant bags of corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips and every other kind of edible chip left on the shelf. Taxed or not taxed?

7) The local pizza joint has amazing salads, but never provides enough salad dressing. Luckily, it sells bottles of the stuff. Taxed or not taxed?

8) Your local supermarket (correctly) doesn’t charge tax on deli case items, including cold cuts and cheeses. You buy a deli meat-and-cheese platter for your best friend’s baby shower. Tax or not taxed?


1) Taxed at 7 percent 2) Not taxed. 3) Taxed at 5 percent. 4) The dozen doughnuts are not taxed; your singleton is taxed at 7 percent. 5) Taxed at 7 percent. 6) Not taxed 7) Not taxed. 8) Taxed at 7 percent.

Some guidelines


* Prepared foods, including rotisserie chicken, sandwiches and individual salads.

* Water, iced tea and soft drinks.

* Candy

* Diet supplements, including vitamins and protein bars.

Not taxed:

* Grocery staples, including fruits, vegetables, raw meat and fish.

* Whole pies or cakes.

* Bread.

* Six or more doughnuts, muffins, cookies, bagels and pastries.


* Small containers of milk and juice are taxed at 7 percent if sold at a store in which 75 percent or more of gross receipts are from the sale of prepared food. (Pizza shop, sandwich shop, etc.)

* Potato chips, pretzels and popcorn are exempt from tax. However, small bags (less than 6 ounces) must be taxed at 7 percent if sold by a store that falls under the 75 percent rule above. They are taxed at 5 percent as candy if they are coated in chocolate, yogurt, caramel or carob.

* Granola bars, cereal bars and breakfast bars are tax free if the first ingredient listed on the package is granola, cereal, oats, fruit juice or fruit extract. If a sweetener, such as chocolate or sugar, is listed first, the bar is considered candy and taxed at 5 percent at a grocery or convenience store and 7 percent at a store that falls under the 75 percent rule.

* Bottled water is taxed at 5 percent unless sold by a store that falls under the 75 percent rule, in which case it’s taxed at 7 percent. Bottled water is not taxed at all if delivered to your home.

* Deli case items, including cold cuts, cheese and potato salad, are not taxed. However, deli platters that contain cold cuts, cheeses and other items are taxed at 7 percent.

* Single serving of pies and cakes, as well as one to five doughnuts, muffins, cookies, bagels and pastries, are taxed when prepared by the retailer.

* All ice cream is tax exempt in grocery stores. Ice cream less than a quart is taxed at 7 percent when sold by a business that falls under the 75 percent rule.

* Fruit baskets are generally tax free, even if they contain a “minor number” of candy or other taxable items. If a basket contains “taxable items of significant value,” the seller must either tax those items separately or tax the basket as a whole.

For questions about Maine’s sales tax or to report a business you believe may have taxed you incorrectly, call Maine Revenue Services at 624-9693.

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