February 22, 1982
You request a ruling as to the application of the sales tax on meals to food products sold by ********** Inc., doing business as ********** ("Store").
The Store sells a variety of packaged, prepared food from two display cases, one of which is a freezer and the other a refrigerator. The products which are sold include knishes, potato pancakes, chopped liver, quiche, chicken wings, veal cacciatore, turkey and brisket. Most items are sold by weight, in units of one or more dozen or in portions designed to serve four or more persons. Single-portion combination plates, such as brisket, green beans and potato pancakes, are also sold. The refrigerated items are fully cooked and at most require reheating before serving.
General Laws Chapter 64H, Section 6(h) exempts from sales taxation food products for human consumption other than meals sold by a restaurant. A meal is defined as any "food or beverage…prepared for human consumption and provided by a restaurant...". A restaurant is "any eating establishment where food, food products or beverages are provided and for which a charge is made…". The following foods or beverages sold by a restaurant for consumption off the restaurant premises are not considered a meal: "[f]ood sold by weight, liquid or dry measure, count, or in unopened original containers or packages...provided that such foods are commonly sold in such manner in a retail food store which is not a restaurant.
Prepared meals, snacks, sandwiches, food platters, poultry, fish or meat items, or other food combinations, to the extent that such items are sold by a restaurant whose principal business is the preparation or sale of such items in such form as to be available for immediate consumption without further significant preparation, whether for on or off premises consumption" are not within this exception.
Based on the foregoing it is ruled that
1. Frozen food items sold by the Store, which require significant preparation outside the Store to be edible, are exempt from the sales tax on meals.
2. All other items sold by the Store are taxable.
Very truly yours,
/s/L. Joyce Hampers
L. Joyce Hampers
Commissioner of Revenue
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