Checkout Bags Taxable in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has issued guidance on the state sales tax implications of the City of Cambridge’s “Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance.” The ordinance requires retail establishments, including restaurants, to impose a minimum charge for a checkout bag when the establishment provides bags to customerseffective March 31, 2016. The checkout bags subject to the ordinance do not qualify as exempt containers and are therefore subject to state sales tax, including the sales tax on meals. A local option meals tax may be applied on sales of the bags if such sales are reported on a meals tax return. Vendors of meals can report the charge for the bags either on their meals tax returns or on their sales tax returnsdepending on how they invoice and report the sale of the bag. If the bag is included in the price of the meal and reported as part of the meals sales amounts, then the meals tax will apply. If the bag is sold separately and reported on the sales tax return then only sales tax will apply. The local option meals tax is imposed in addition to the state sales tax on meals and is collected and remitted like the sales tax.(Technical Information Release 16-5, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, March 30, 2016)

Posted on April 25, 2016