Utilities Used to Prepare Food at Missouri Retail Establishment Not Exempt

The Missouri Supreme Court, reversing a decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission, held that a convenience store is not exempt from sales and use tax on electricity purchased for its food preparation operations. Missouri tax law provides a tax exemption for the “processing” of products, but the court held that retail food preparation does not meet that definition as intended by the legislature. “Processing” is defined under the statute, but the definition is ambiguous. The court reached its decision based on the following factors: the industrial connotation of other words within the statute, previous court holdings that processing is essentially the same as manufacturing, and another court holding that restaurants do not engage in manufacturing. As preparing food for retail consumption is not “processing” within the meaning of the statute, the convenience store was not entitled to a refund of sales and use tax paid on electricity used to power its food preparation operations. (Aquila Foreign Qualifications Corp. v. Director of Revenue, Supreme Court of Missouri, No. SC91784, March 6, 2012)

Posted on April 20, 2012