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Meals & Beverage Tax Questionare



One Capitol Hill, Providence, Rhode Island 02908


The 2003 Session of the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted legislation requiring all "eating and/or drinking establishments" to charge and collect a one percent (1%) local tax on the sale of "meals" and/or "beverages" within this state, effective August 1, 2003.

The tax applies whether the meals and/or beverages are prepared in the eating and/or drinking establishment or not and whether consumed at the premises or not. The rate of one percent (1%) must be shown separately on the bill of sale. The local tax is to be paid to the Division of Taxation along with the 7% state sales tax. All local taxes received by the Division will be distributed to the city or town where the meals and beverages are delivered.

A combined returnw ill be used to report the seven percent (7%) state sales taxes and the local one percent (1%) tax. The 1% tax will be reported on the return by city or town where the meals and/or beverage are delivered

The terms beverage, meal, and eating and/or drinking establishment as defined by law are listed below.

Should you have any questions regarding this notice, please call the Division of Taxation at (401) 222-2950, Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM.

Note: The 1% local tax is to separately stated from the 7% state sales tax. In the event that this requirement causes a hardship to a business, that business may issue receipts with the taxes combined at an 8% rate. Although the receip to the customer may combine rates, the business must still maintain its books and records in such manner to segregate the two taxes in order to properly report them to the Division of Taxation.

Rhode Island General Laws
Section 44-18-18.1
Local Meals and Beverage Tax

  • "Beverage" means all nonalcoholic beverages, as well as alcoholic beverages, beer, lager beer, ale, porter, wine, similar fermented malt or vinous liquor.
  • "Meal" means any prepared food or beverage offered or held out for sale by an eating and/or drinking establishment for the purpose for being consumed by any person to satisfy the appetite and which is ready for immediate consumption. All such food and beverage, unless otherwise specifically exempted or excluded herein shall be included, whether intended to be consumed on the seller's premises or elsewhere, whether designated as breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, supper or by some other name, and with out regard to the manner, time or place of service.
  • "Eating and /or drinking establishments" means and includes restaurants, bars, taverns, lounges, cafeterias, lunch counters, drive-ins, roadside ice cream and refreshment stands, fish and chip places, fried chicken places, pizzerias, food and drink concessions, vending machines, or similar facilities in amusement parks, bowling alleys, clubs, caterers, drive-in theaters, industrial plants, race tracks, shore resorts or other locations, lunch carts, mobile canteens and other similar vehicles, and other like places of business which furnish or provide facilities for immediate consumption of food at tables, chairs or counters or from trays, plates, cups or other tableware or in parking facilities provided primarily for the use of patrons in consuming products purchased at the location.

Ordinarily, eating establishments do not mean and include food stores and supermarkets.

Retailers selling prepared foods in bulk either in customer- furnished containers or in the seller's containers, for example "Soup and Sauce" establishments, are deemed to be selling prepared foods ordinarily for immediate consumption and as such are considered eating establishments.