The Twix Tax Conundrum
- May 16, 2013 | Gail Cole
Most states tax candy. Like alcohol and cigarettes, candy is taxed, in part, because it's not super good for those who eat it. Consume too much candy, and there's a good chance you'll cost the state more in terms of health care and services. But just what is candy?
Years ago, Streamlined Sales Tax states deliberated this question and took pains to come up with a fair definition. No one could accuse them of not being thorough--a search for "candy" on the SST website yields 313 results. Yet the end result is a bit surprising.
SST Rule 327.61 defines candy as:
"a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces."
But wait. There's more.
If it needs to be refrigerated, it isn't candy. If it has any amount of wheat in it, it isn't candy.
I confess this turns my world view on its head. In spite of commercials touting Twix as a cookie covered/cloaked in caramel and chocolate, I've always thought of Twix as candy.
The folks at SST saw me coming. They state plainly that the definition of candy "is intended to be used when a person is trying to determine … if a product is 'candy' as opposed to a cookie." They add, "The definition is not intended to be applied to every type of food product sold."
An appendix classifies numerous products as "candy or food or food ingredients." Almond bark? Candy. Fruit roll-ups? Candy. (Sorry parents). Twix bar? Not candy. Why? Because it contains flour.
There it is. In all SST states, such as New Jersey, the Twix bar is not candy.
Of course, in a non-SST state, Twix may be candy. Or it may be both candy and cookie. Consider that.
In New York State, Twix comfortably straddles the line. Twix that live in the cookie aisle are considered cookies and are exempt from sales tax. However, Twix residing in the candy aisle or by the register are considered candy and are subject to sales tax.
The moral seems to be: "Don't succumb to the impulse buy." Or perhaps it's, "Don't eat just one Twix," or "Twix cost less when you share them with friends." Aesop would know.
Where do you buy your candy?