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Tax Free Turkey?

The Taxation of Groceries in Florida

As Thanksgiving nears and we think about the many blessings we have to be thankful for, here’s another one to add to the list: groceries are exempt from the Florida sales tax. So when you are racking up that big grocery bill in preparation for the holiday feast, be thankful that you don’t live in one the 13 states that taxes groceries, and six additional states only levy local sales taxes on groceries.

You can buy the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and most everything else that will be on the Thanksgiving table without having to pay Florida’s state and local sales taxes, which range from 6 to 8.5 percent. But it’s not always cut and dried. Generally, food is exempt as long as you prepare it yourself. If you buy a turkey, ham, or sweet potato casserole that has already been prepared by your market, you will have to pay sales tax on the purchase.

Your market’s delicatessen may sell food that has been prepared on- or off-site. Food prepared elsewhere is exempt if it is sold in the original sealed container that is was delivered to the store in. If the grocer breaks it up into smaller packages, it becomes taxable. If prepared on-site, even if the store only added ingredients like sugar or onions, it is taxable. Hot food, such as rotisserie or fried chicken and hot side dishes are taxable as prepared food ready for immediate consumption. Deli meats and cheeses, even if sliced to order, are not taxable; but if it is arranged as a party platter, it is taxable. Cut up fruit or a pre-made salad is exempt, unless it is packaged with eating utensils.

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