Is food taxable in Massachusetts?

by TaxJar November 20, 2023

Please note: This blog was originally published in 2021. It’s since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

In the US, states are allowed to set their own sales tax rates. This includes sales tax on items like food or restaurant meals. This post will dig into how the state of Massachusetts handles grocery food and restaurant meal taxability. 

Are groceries taxable in Massachusetts?

Grocery items are generally tax exempt in Massachusetts. This includes soft drinks, candy and other food types that many other states consider taxable. 

Are meals taxable in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has a separate “meals tax” for prepared food. That statewide tax is currently 6.25% (which is also Massachusetts’ statewide sales tax rate). Local areas in Massachusetts can also choose to add an additional “local option” sales tax on meals sold in that jurisdiction. 

Food sold by a business that is “primarily engaged in the business of selling meals” is taxable at the Massachusetts meals tax rates. These businesses include restaurants, cafes, food trucks or stands, coffee shops, etc. 

Massachusetts law makes a few exceptions here. For example, while a ready-to-eat sandwich sold at a deli would be taxable, a pound of turkey would be tax exempt. Six or more baked goods sold in a unit (such as a pack of 6 bagels or a dozen donuts) would also be tax exempt. 

The state of Massachusetts provides more detail on Sales Tax on Meals here and in their code of laws here.

Are beverages taxable in Massachusetts?

Poured beverages, as if from a soda fountain, are generally always taxable in Massachusetts. Beverages in original, unopened containers (like a bottle of water or a soft drink) are generally always non-taxable. 

How to always collect the correct amount of sales tax in Massachusetts

Do you sell groceries, meals or beverages? Are you required to collect sales tax in Massachusetts? Then this may sound like a huge headache. 

That’s where TaxJar can help. 

With the TaxJar API, you can be sure you’re collecting the right amount of sales tax on every transaction. Our product tax codes ensure you do collect sales tax on that soft drink but don’t collect sales tax on that plain coffee drink. 

Not to mention, most e-commerce businesses have nexus in multiple states. For example, groceries are taxable in some states, but non-taxable in others. Or, like Massachusetts, where local areas can choose to levy “extra” sales tax on meals. With TaxJar, you’ll collect the right amount of sales tax from every customer, in every state, every time.

Further food and meal taxability resources:

Ready to automate sales tax collection, reporting and filing? Click here for more on how TaxJar can take the headache out of sales tax in your food & beverage business.

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