In state capitols lawmakers are setting out to make sure none of your dough goes untaxed. In many states, food that is sold ready to eat is taxed but food defined as grocery escapes taxation. Buy a frozen pizza from a popular brand, that grocery won’t be taxed in 32 states. Want to buy a hot pizza at your favorite pizzeria? You’ll likely pay a prepared food tax in most.
However, if your local store assembled your favorite toppings and took a few steps out of your pizza making process, some states do – and want others to – tax that convenience.
The Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board recently said they believed that uncooked, but assembled pizza met the requirements to be taxed as prepared food. Not all states agree, as Dan Noble – director of the Wyoming (a state that doesn’t tax pizza) Department of Revenue – states:
“‘We had conversations with Pizza Hut and some of the other ready-to-eat folks, and they asked why we would allow (uncooked pizza to go untaxed),’ Noble said. ‘We said if you sell a raw pizza, it’s not taxed either’ the recommendation went to the Governing Board. It couldn’t decide.”
The Federation of Tax Administrations reports that Alabama and Mississippi tax supermarket food, while 5 other states tax food but offer credits and 6 states tax groceries at lower rates. There are a total of 32 states, where they don’t tax groceries.
The state of pizza specific taxation varies by state: Eleven states currently tax uncooked, assembled pizzas as prepared food, but eight states don’t. Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Kansas tax all food, while Ohio exempts all food consumed off the restaurant premises. Georgia’s tax regulations don’t appear to address pizza.
It seems that the mission in many state capitols is to leave nothing untaxed, forgetting they’ve already taxed your money (more-than-likely multiple times) before it reached the counter of your local grocery store.