Scariest part of Halloween? Figuring out Florida’s candy taxes says Florida TaxWatch

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Bursting with ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night, real and pretend; there is one thing that can be the most terrifying part of Halloween.

Taxes on candy.

That’s right, something as unsullied and innocent as Halloween candy can be transformed into a nightmare when it comes to taxation.

Such are the myriad of rules governing grocery store purchases in Florida and throughout the country.

Florida TaxWatch, the non-profit bipartisan government watchdog, is using Halloween to educate Florida consumers on what delicacies and goodies are taxable, and what are not.

A new TaxWatch brief details what Halloween goodies the state taxes under Florida’s often-confusing grocery tax rules. It also compares candy taxation in the Sunshine State to the 49 other states.

“Florida shoppers know that most of their groceries are tax-free, but the rules can get very tricky, especially when taxing candy,” says Florida TaxWatch CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida TaxWatch compiled this list of treats so that the hardworking taxpayers of Florida can better understand their tax obligations.”

For example, sixteen states consider candy to be groceries, which are exempt from taxes. Seven states exempt groceries, including candy, while five states tax groceries, but at a lower rate.

Florida, as well as seventeen other states, does not consider candy to be groceries, and as such, taxes them at full rate.

In Florida, like with many other things, it only gets more confusing from there.

Most of the candy adults give to the little goblins leaning on the doorbell is subject to a 6 percent Florida sales tax, as well as applicable local sales taxes. Just as long as they cost more than ten cents.

Other candy-like food items are also taxable: candy apples, chewing gum and breath mints — except those containing aspirin, laxative, or antacids (don’t get any ideas) — cotton candy, fruit-flavored sticks, jelly beans, licorice, and lollipops.

But there’s more; chocolate and glazed or sugar coated fruit is taxable, but chocolate chips and glazed fruit are exempt from taxes when they are “advertised or normally sold for use in cooking or baking.”

Additionally, frosting, powdered sugar, and items used to decorate baked goods are exempt.

Then there are marshmallows, which Florida TaxWatch calls “both a trick and a treat”: trick — marshmallow candy is taxable; treat — marshmallows alone are exempt.

For those people still confused by the whole subject of Halloween taxation, don’t give up and start throwing pennies in kids trick-or-treat bags. That’s just wrong.

Happy Halloween!

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.