3:24 PM EST, February 10, 2013
A comment was made by an anonymous Mail Caller recently concerning confusion about Maryland’s sales tax as it applies to food purchases.
“I recently went to a local eatery to get takeout,” the person said. “I noticed that I was charged 7 percent tax. I thought the sales tax in Maryland was 6 percent. I looked online and could not find anywhere that takeout would be charged a higher rate than everything else. Anybody have an explanation for me?”
According to a spokeswoman at the state comptroller’s office, Maryland sales and use tax applies to all retail sales within the state, as well as the use of “tangible personal property or a taxable service.”
Spokeswoman Sarah C. Dufresne said in an email that the sales tax rate on food and drink is 6 percent in most cases, unless an exception applies. One exception, for example, is a 9 percent sales tax levied on alcoholic beverage sales, she said.
When asked specifically about sales tax assessed for an eat-in food order as compared to takeout, Dufresne said there is nothing in state law that permits a vendor to charge a higher sales tax rate on takeout.
“Food is food,” she said over the telephone in a follow-up conversation to her email. “Whether you eat in or take out, they should have the same tax on their food.”
However, some establishments might add a takeout fee to orders that are picked up and carried out, Dufresne said.
Maryland sales and use taxes are used to fund “certain distributions,” then the remainder is put into the state’s general fund, according to the comptroller’s office.
— Compiled by C.J. Lovelace
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