Sales Tax on Meals

Learn when you should pay sales tax on meals and if your business qualifies as a restaurant—which needs to register with MassTaxConnect.

Overview

Massachusetts charges a sales tax on meals sold by restaurants or any part of a store considered by Massachusetts law to be a restaurant. The meals tax rate is 6.25%.

Anyone who sells meals that are subject to sales tax in Massachusetts is a meals tax "vendor."

If a liquor license holder operates a restaurant where meals are served, the holder of the license is presumed to be the meals tax vendor, whether the meals are served by the license holder or a concessionaire. Vendors must add a 6.25% sales tax to the selling price of every meal and collect it from the purchaser. The tax must be separately stated and separately charged on all invoices, bills, displays or contracts except on those solely for alcoholic beverages.

Businesses register to collect meals tax with MassTaxConnect.

Meals Tax Language

Restaurant: A restaurant is any eating or drinking establishment - whether stationary or mobile, temporary or permanent-that is primarily engaged in the business of selling meals. Such establishments include but are not limited to:

  • Cafes
  • Cafeterias
  • Canteen trucks or wagons
  • Catering businesses (See Directive 06-3, Catering Businesses.)
  • Cocktail lounges and bars
  • Coffee shops
  • Diners
  • Dining rooms, including hotel and motel dining rooms
  • Ice cream or other food product stands
  • Lunch counters
  • Private or social clubs
  • Salad bars
  • Snack bars, including theatre snack bars
  • Street wagons or carts
  • Taverns
  • Vending machines or "honor snack trays" that sell snacks or candy with a sales price of $3.50 or more. Honor snack trays consist of any vending arrangements in which snacks or candy are available in an open tray for employees in an establishment that normally does not sell food and for which payment is made on the honor system.

Restaurant part: A restaurant part is an area, section or counter, etc., within a store from which meals are sold. Any store that contains a restaurant part must charge a sales tax on those meals.

Examples of stores that may have a restaurant part include supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries, delicatessens, convenience stores and markets.

Restaurant meal delivery company: A restaurant meal delivery company is a vendor of meals purchased from restaurants for resale and delivery. See Directive 04-6 for more information.

Local Option Meals Excise

A city or town may also charge a local sales tax on the sales of restaurant meals.

View Massachusetts local option meals rates here

For more information, see:

Additional Resources

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