Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Food Sold
Through Coin-Operated Vending Machines
PURPOSE: This Special Notice provides information about a new exemption from sales and use taxes for sales of food products through coin-operated vending machines.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Effective for sales occurring on or after July 1, 1997.
STATUTORY AUTHORITY: Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(27)(B), as amended by 1995 Conn. Pub. Acts 160, §§42 and 69.
EXEMPTION FOR SALES OF FOOD PRODUCTS SOLD THROUGH COIN-OPERATED VENDING MACHINES: Effective July 1, 1997, Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(27)(B) exempts from sales and use taxes "sales of food products, as defined in subsection (13) of this section, sold through coin-operated vending machines."
"FOOD PRODUCTS" DEFINED: Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(13) defines food products to include "cereals and cereal products, milk and milk products, oleomargarine, meat and meat products, fish and fish products, eggs and egg products, vegetables and vegetable products, fruit and fruit products, spices and salt, sugar and sugar products other than candy and confectionary; coffee and coffee substitutes, tea, cocoa and cocoa products other than candy and confectionary." This list is not all-inclusive, but describes the types of items considered food for purposes of the general exemption for sales of food products.
Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(13) specifically excludes from the definition of food products the following items: "spiritous, malt or vinous liquors, soft drinks, sodas or beverages such as are ordinarily dispensed at bars and soda fountains, or in connection therewith, medicines except by prescription, tonics and preparations in liquid, powdered, granular, tablet, capsule, lozenge and pill form sold as dietary supplements or adjuncts."
NEW VENDING MACHINE EXEMPTION INCLUDES FOOD SOLD AS "MEALS": Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(13) also specifically excludes from the definition of food products "meals sold by an eating establishment or caterer." According to that statute, a meal means "food products which are furnished, prepared or served in such a form and in such portions that they are ready for immediate consumption." An eating establishment is defined to include a "vending machine."
Because most, if not all, food items sold through coin-operated vending machines are in such form or in such portions as to constitute "meals" under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(13), and because a vending machine is within the statutory definition of eating establishment, under a strict reading of the statute no items sold in vending machines could be "food products." However, the General Assembly is presumed to have intended the exemption in §12-412(27)(B) for "food products, as defined in subsection (13) of this section, sold through coin-operated vending machines" to be meaningful. Therefore, the portion of Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(13) excluding "meals sold by an eating establishment" from the definition of food products will not apply to the exemption in Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(27)(B).
ITEMS THAT ARE EXEMPT WHEN SOLD THROUGH COIN-OPERATED VENDING MACHINES: The following is a list of the types of food products that are exempt when sold through coin-operated vending machines:
- Sandwiches and grinders
The above items, and any other food products, are exempt when sold through coin-operated vending machines regardless of their size, quantity or volume, and whether or not they are ready for immediate consumption.
Although they are not food products, certain nonprescription medicines sometimes sold in coin-operated vending machines are exempt from sales and use taxes, under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48):
- Internal analgesics
- Cough and cold products
- Eye ointments and solutions
ITEMS THAT REMAIN TAXABLE WHEN SOLD THROUGH COIN-OPERATED VENDING MACHINES: The following items remain subject to sales and use taxes whether sold through coin-operated vending machines or elsewhere:
- Candy and confectionary, including chocolate
- Candy-coated nuts, raisins, popcorn, cereal bars and granola bars
- Chewing gum
- Soda and all other carbonated beverages Alcoholic beverages
- Cigarettes and tobacco products
- Items not intended for human consumption
RECORD-KEEPING REQUIREMENTS FOR RETAILERS: The new exemption for food products sold through coin-operated vending machines may result in both taxable and nontaxable items being sold in the same vending machine. It is the responsibility of the vending machine retailer to keep accurate and detailed records of which items are taxable and which items are exempt, and to account for gross receipts from the sales of separate items sold in such machines, to substantiate any claims of exemption by such retailer.
EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS: PS 95(3) is modified by this Special Notice.
EFFECT OF THIS DOCUMENT: A Special Notice is a document that, in response to newly enacted or amended Connecticut or federal laws or in response to newly released judicial decisions, announces a new Department position, policy or practice affecting the tax liability of taxpayers.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: To order forms and publications or for further information, call the Department of Revenue Services at 860-297-5962 (Hartford area or out-of-state) or 1-800-382-9463 (in-state). Forms and publications may be ordered through voice-mail 24 hours a day by choosing Option 3 on your touch tone telephone.
Electronic Delivery Options: You can also obtain tax forms and publications 24 hours a day from our site on the World Wide Web at http://www.ct.gov/drs. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD/TT) users only call 860-297-4911 during business hours.
Sales and Use Taxes