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Furthermore …

In search of a consistent slice of the tax pie

The collection of sales tax on online purchases isn’t the only issue befuddling state tax administrators. They also are at odds over collection of sales tax on take-and-bake pizzas. Some collect it as they would for any other ready-to-eat food; others treat it as a grocery item, to be prepared at home.

Stateline.org reports that Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza, which operates stores in more than three dozen states, wants some consistency in its tax collection requirements.

Eleven states, including Michigan, treat take-and-bake pizza the same as a cooked pie, but Indiana and seven other states categorize the product as a grocery item and don’t charge sales tax, according to the chairman of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board’s compliance and interpretation committee.

The governing board, with 24 participating states, was established to bring consistency to sales-tax collections. As the pizza debate illustrates, there currently is little uniformity. Ohio exempts all food consumed off restaurant premises. Five states charge no sales tax.

When the governing board was asked to decide whether take-and-bake pizzas should be taxed, a split vote was the result. The panel is considering something called a “toggle rule,” which allows states to handle the matter however they might decide. That, of course, won’t help Papa Murphy’s or other pizzerias selling uncooked pies. A spokesman for the governing board said a workgroup made up of various state and business personnel was convened to draft a proposed toggle amendment to the group’s definition of prepared food.

Wonder whether they will order out for pizza during their deliberations – and can they decide between pepperoni and sausage?

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