Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the Sales Tax and Use Tax in West Virginia will be reduced from 3 percent to 2 percent.
The Sales Tax and Uses tax refers to the purchases of food and food ingredients intended for human consumption. According to the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA), as of Jan. 1, 2011, there are only 10 states in the U.S. that enforce a specific sales tax on food and food ingredients, W. Va. being one. The regular sales tax of 6 percent will still apply to items classified as prepared food items, soft drinks, and food sold through vending machines. The trick may be in what category do certain items fall under.
The West Virginia State Tax Department defines “food and food ingredients” as “substances, whether in liquid, concentrated, solid, frozen, dried or dehydrated form, that are sold for ingestion or chewing by humans and are consumed for their taste or nutritional value. “Food and food ingredients” does not include alcoholic beverages, prepared food, or tobacco.”
“Prepared food items” are defined as “food sold in a heated state or heated by the seller; Two or more food ingredients mixed or combined by the seller for sale as a single item; or food sold with eating utensils provided by the seller, including plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses, cups, napkins, or straws. A plate does not include a container or packaging used to transport the food.” This does not include foods that are processed and repackaged such as eggs, fish, meat, poultry, and other foods that contain raw animal products that require cooking. It also does not include bakery items.
“Soft drinks” are defined as “nonalcoholic beverages that contain natural or artificial sweeteners.” This does not include drinks that contain milk or milk products, soy, rice or similar milk substitutes, or beverages with more fifty percent of vegetable or fruit juice by volume.
One may ask how this decrease in sales tax will affect Mason County. One affected area could be some of the area food pantries. Scott Knowlton, pastor of the Mason United Methodist Church, does not anticipate much of a difference. Knowlton, who works with the Bend Area Food Pantry, reported that this small decrease will allow the average family to save $54 a year, approximately one dollar per week. Of course saving any money can be a good thing, but it’s perhaps not enough to make a significant difference. Knowlton is not concerned about the tax decrease affecting the food pantry’s future.
“Donations haven’t waned,” Knowlton said. “Everything has been great. The food pantry has been really blessed.”
For a more complete list of items covered under the reduced taxes, visit www.wva.state.wv.us/wvtax/foodtax.aspx. For more information regarding sales tax by state, visit www.taxadmin.org.