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Taxability of Dietary Supplements in Missouri


 Does this qualify as food?

Under Missouri law, retail sales of “food and food products” purchased for home are subject to a reduced rate of tax of 1%. The question is, what qualifies as food and food products?

Section 144.014.2, RSMo uses the definition as food provided by the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Federal Food Stamp Program, which defines food as follows:

  1. Any food or food product for home consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, hot foods or hot food products ready for immediate consumption (except in certain situations).
  2. Seeds and plants for use in gardens to produce food for the personal consumption of the eligible household.

Missouri law also includes in the definition of food “food dispensed by or through vending machines.”

As anyone who has shopped for sustenance in this country knows, there is a dizzying array of products — some of which are not obviously food. Sellers invariably have questions from time to time.

Questions

The Missouri Department of Revenue recently answered such questions in a letter ruling (LR 7673). A seller of dietary supplements wished to know if the products were subject to Missouri sales or use tax and, if so, if any products were eligible for the reduced food sales or use tax rate.

Answers

Dietary supplements are subject to sales or use tax under RSMo, Section 144.020.1. The dietary supplements in question do not qualify for an exemption under RSMo 144.030.2(19) (for prescribed products and certain over-the-counter or nonprescription drugs).

Dietary supplements containing a nutritional facts label are subject to Missouri’s 1% reduced sales/use tax rate for food under Section 144.014.1 RSMo.

However, dietary supplements containing only a supplemental facts label (and not a nutritional facts label) are not subject to the reduced rate.

Letter rulings can be instructive but they are binding only with respect to the applicant and only for a period of 3 years.

 

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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.