Texas introduces new snack tax

Lawmakers say they were trying to make state sales tax on food items easier to understand

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Texas has a new snack tax that may make you think twice the next time you pick up a bag of chips at the store. Lawmakers say they weren't trying to discourage unhealthy eating. They were trying to make state sales tax on food items easier to understand.

Many consumers have wondered why it is that they're charged sales tax on a bag of chips at the convenience store when there's no tax at the grocery store.

As the law existed prior to September 1, restaurants could tax items like a bag of chips, but retail stores could not. Some convenience stores with restaurants inside charged the tax regardless of if the customer was eating the store's restaurant.

The new snack tax makes it clear that certain individual-sized snack items will be taxed regardless of where you buy them.

The items included in the new snack tax are individual serving sizes or packages of breakfast bars, granola bars, nutrition bars, protein, sports or yogurt bars, snack mix, trail mix, nuts, popcorn, chips, crackers or hard pretzels.

No matter where you buy these items, whether it's a grocery store, convenience store or a vending machine, you will pay sales tax.

A Richmond area vending machine owner told Local 2 that vending machine operators generally pay sales tax on their gross sales every year; so they have already factored that tax into the products in the machine. He doesn't anticipate that he or other vending machine operators will raise prices because of the new snack tax. 

Unsure of what constitutes an individual size?

If the nutrition label doesn't clearly state that the package is just one serving, it includes any packages of the above items that are 2.5 ounces or less. Candy and soda pop are already taxed no matter what the size of the package.

Read the state comptroller's explanation of Texas' snack tax.

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