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Do Food Trucks Charge Sales Tax?

Yes, food trucks charge sales tax. Once you serve food to patrons, you are obligated to retrieve sales tax. You are not expected to pay taxes on food purchases since you will be taxing people on the finished product sold from your service window. You need to register an account for your food truck with your state so you can reimburse sales tax on a periodic basis.

What is a Sales Tax?

A sales tax is levied on the provision of services, which includes the selling of food from a food truck. The sale price is multiplied by the existing state sales tax rate to derive the bill. Retail sales are taxed in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The percentage of sales tax tends to differ from place to place. Cities may also levy a sales tax, which will be included in the sales price in addition to the state sales tax. The existence of a food truck business in the United States subjects it to sales tax reporting.

Food trucks are expected to retrieve sales tax at the point of sale.  Note that when a food truck in Washington starts selling taxable items, the vendor will need to retrieve 9.21% sales tax from their consumers. If a food truck starts selling taxable items in Louisiana, it will also need to retrieve a 9.52% sales tax.

The food truck vendor must first register with the State Department of Revenue before they can legally collect sales taxes. You can register with the State Department of Revenue online or as a professional to obtain the permit. Most times, the permit is issued immediately or within 10 business days of submitting online.

Note that paper enrollment can take two to four weeks. Upon obtaining a sales tax permit, you can start accumulating the sales tax percentage on each sale.

Tips to Help Your Food Truck Charge Sales Tax Accurately

  1. Understand your state tax laws

Sales tax is imposed in 46 states and the District of Columbia, and each has its own system for enforcing it. The manner in which sales tax is collected varies from one state to another.

You might be obligated to charge 7% to patrons at your snack time stop, then travel to another town for dinner and discover that the sales tax rate has risen to 9.25%. Aside from the fact that each state has its own set of rules regarding sales taxes, some food products are also taxable in most states while others are not. Alternatively, some states have a separate sales tax rate for food.

  1. Be smart about collecting sales tax

Every food truck owner knows how difficult it is to calculate and retrieve sales tax. Aside from your obligation to collect, also know that any technical inaccuracies can result in sanctions. You might see the need to charge the average tax rate in places with differential local taxes; however, doing so risks over-collecting or under-collecting, and could also result in serious headaches in the future.

If you retrieve too much sales tax, you will have to either pay the remaining to the state or reimburse it to the client. If you fail to retrieve enough, you may be held responsible for the variation.

After you register your company, you will start obtaining frequent letters and notices informing you of modifications in state and local tax guidelines as well as rates. Note that knowing the precise sales tax rate wherever you conduct business is critical.

  1. Keep track of your tax deductions

You could save money on your tax payments as a food trucker by taking advantage of meaningful deductions. For instance, you can subtract miles driven in your truck.

You have two alternative approaches: use the standard mileage rate or your truck’s exact expenditures. In any circumstance, you must keep records of all of your truck’s miles and operating costs. When tax season arrives, your accountant could ascertain which method will save you reasonable money.

  1. Get specialist financial assistance when you need it

Utilizing a team to manage your company’s finances is a luxury designated for only bigger corporations with extra overhead. Meanwhile, the adoption of advanced technologies has made it more convenient to outsource your accounting process to third-party companies equipped with professional CPAs and bookkeepers.

As a food truck operator, understand that having to wear multiple hats is part of the job. The juggling act of having to work, buy things, get ready, advertise, file taxes, and a million other things never ends. When you reach the threshold where you have to hire someone else, deciding to outsource your accounting and finance projects may be the best alternative.