Costumes, some candy among the items to become tax exempt

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:57

    NEW JERSEY—Just in time for Halloween, sales tax is being removed from Twix bars, Tootsie Rolls and those itchy store-bought Halloween costumes. The changes are designed to smooth operations for businesses with multistate trade so that say, a single-serving bottle of iced tea or dandruff shampoo is taxed similarly in several states. New Jersey will join about 20 other states that have signed onto the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Among the changes is one in which sweets made with flour — such as licorice, KitKats and Nestle’s Crunch, will be exempt from tax, while those prepared without flour — Hershey’s chocolate bars, for example — remains subject to New Jersey’s 6 percent sales tax. Traditionally, food with nutritional value has been tax exempt, while other things that are considered luxuries — chocolate, tobacco, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages — are taxed. But each state makes its own rules, so in some places a Twix bar is considered a tax-free cookie, while in other places it was considered a taxable candy. Months of debate among the dozens of state and industry leaders in New Jersey and elsewhere finally determined that any sweet containing flour would be considered a tax-exempt food, state tax officials said. Foods that consumers typically take home to prepare for themselves remain tax free, while ready-to-eat food — hot take-out at the supermarket, anything sold with utensils — is subject to tax. Clothing remains tax-free, a status that will for the first time be extended to costumes. But would-be pilgrims or pirates will continue to help buttress the Garden State’s coffers when it comes to accouterments: belt buckles, patches, emblems and masks sold separately will be taxed, as are traditional accessories such as billfolds and pocketbooks. Among other tax changes: All grooming products will be subject to tax. Previously, items that claimed to contain medicine, such as certain dandruff shampoos, were tax exempt.