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Which Foods Can Be Taxed Confuses Some

By ABC-7 Reporter Veronique Masterson

El Paso,Texas – As you walk into your local grocery store, you hear familiar sounds.

The beep as food is being scanned and the scrolling of the printer as your receipt is printed.

In this time of economic turmoil, many are pinching pennies anyway they can. Vigilant consumers pay attention to what they’re buying and how much they’re being charged, especially the taxes on grocery items.

Some are more vigilant than others.

Shopper Carol Logan says, “I check my receipt.”

Fred Reynolds on the other hand, “I kind of keep up on it. Mostly my wife does.”

The next question is, do you check what you are taxed?

In Texas, most unprepared food cannot be taxed. But prepared food can be.

That can lead to a complicated list of taxable and tax exempt items. For example, pure fruit juice is not taxed. Juice with less than 50 percent fruit juice is taxed.

Another example, milk is not taxed, but soft drinks are.

“Are these things sold hot, ready to consume kind of things? Are they served with utensils?” Luis Martinez, Field Manager for the Texas Comptroller’s El Paso Enforcement Office says tax confusion is one the biggest complaint’s his office receives. “There’s lots of information. That makes it really hard to explain to somebody why this is taxable here, but not taxable there.”

He says sales tax is the biggest revenue producer for the state.

Here in El Paso, the sales tax is 8.25 percent. Of that, 6.25 percent goes to the state, 1 percent goes to the city, .5 percent goes to the county and another .5 percent to the transit authority.

But not everyone’s okay with taxing food.

“Because it’s a tax on a lot of people who can’t afford it,” says Logan.

Still, a tax we’ll just have to deal with. Click on our link to the State Comptroller’s website. There you’ll find a list of taxable and tax exempt items. You’ll also find local numbers to call to speak with a local representative.

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