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Applying Sales Tax to Alcoholic Beverages in Florida


 Learn the proper way to apply Florida sales tax to alcoholic beverages.

Florida sales tax and discretionary sales surtax apply to alcoholic beverages sold in Florida bars and lounges. Like preparing a perfect drink, applying sales tax to alcoholic beverages in Florida takes patience and practice.

All sellers of alcoholic beverages in Florida must do one of the following:

  • Calculate sales tax and surtax on the total sales price of each alcoholic beverage sale OR
  • Calculate sales tax and surtax using one of the methods described in this notice (if it is “impractical to separately record the sales price and the tax and surtax on each sale of an alcoholic drink").

Different methods apply depending on whether or not sales tax is included in the posted price of the beverage, and whether or not sales transactions are “between whole dollar amounts.” The Florida Department of Revenue provides sample tax rate charts and examples in the notice Sales and Use Tax on Bars and Lounges. Helpful hint: Take this information with a sensible cup of coffee rather than a cocktail. It’s confusing enough.

Exempt

Alcoholic beverages are exempt from Florida sales and use tax in a couple of situations. These are as follows:

  • When wine, liquor and distilled spirits are “provided by distributors or vendors for ‘wine tasting’ or ‘spirituous beverage tasting.’” However charges to the public for such tastings are subject to sales tax and surtax.
  • When a public lodging establish advertises the provision of complimentary food and drinks and all of the following are all true:
    • Food and drinks are part of a packaged room rate;
    • No specific amount or separate charge is stated to the guest for such food or drinks;
    • The public lodging establishment has a valid license with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants; and
    • The public lodging establishment rents or leases transient accommodations subject to sales and use tax.

If managing taxes sucks time away from more profitable (and less face it, interesting) business activities, consider implementing an automated solution. Learn more.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.