Taxes on soft drinks, vending machine victuals now in effect

By Sarah Olsen,

That Coke now costs a little more. A 6 percent sales tax on sugary drinks went into effect July 1.

The Vermont Legislature and Gov. Peter Shumlin approved the extension of the sales tax to soda and other sweet drinks as part of a tax package passed last session.

Tina Zuk, director of government relations for the American Heart Association, was an advocate for an excise tax of 2 cents per ounce on all sugar-added drinks, which was proposed as H.24 in January. That bill failed and the sales tax was added in the final days of the session.

Jim Harrison, president of the Vermont Retailers and Grocers Association, has a different problem with the new tax.

“The Legislature made our job a little more difficult with the definition that was selected for ‘soft drinks,’” Harrison said. “Retailers are busy trying to figure out what items in their store are taxable and which ones are not.”

Soft drinks are considered to be nonalcoholic beverages that contain natural or artificial sweeteners.

Exemptions to the soft drink law include items purchased with food stamps; those that contain milk, soy, rice or other milk substitutes; and those that contain greater than 50 percent vegetable or fruit juice by volume, according to a Vermont Department of Taxes fact sheet. Also starting Wednesday, all food and beverages sold in vending machines are subject to the 9 percent Vermont Meals and Rooms tax.

Mountain Times Newsletter

Sign up below to receive the weekly newsletter, which also includes top trending stories and what all the locals are talking about!