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Halloween tax scare: state taxation of candy and other food

Cat silhouetted against full orange moon_Bessi via Pixabay
Image by Bessi via Pixabay

Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month.

Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks.

But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy. Lots and lots of candy.

Halloween candy bowl
Our Halloween candy bowl

And in most places where that candy is purchased, the state tax collector gets his or her due.

That Halloween tax connect is why The Tax Foundation's look at the tax treatment of candy (and soft drinks and other foodstuffs) gets this week's Saturday Shout Out.

"Forty-five states and the District of Columbia levy a state sales tax. Of those, 32 states and the District of Columbia exempt groceries from the sales tax base. Twenty-four states and D.C. treat either candy or soda differently than groceries," writes Janelle Cammenga, a Tax Foundation policy analyst.

I'll let your read Janelle's analysis at your leisure, but the Washington, D.C.-based tax organization's map below gives you an idea of where your state stands on food — and candy — taxation.


Have a happy and extra coronavirus safe Halloween!

Bonus candy tax coverage: Check out my Tumbling Taxes post with its candy tax video.

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