Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Flour power: Want to save on sales tax? Buy a Kit Kat

Keep chomping on your candy bar!

Although several Colorado sales tax exemptions have been removed effective today, including "nonessential items related to sales of food and beverages" (i.e., to-go containers), materials used in direct mail advertising and standardized computer software, candy and soft drinks -- and fans of these unhealthy snacks -- will continue to enjoy a sales tax-exemption until the end of April.

But as of May 1, according to the state, "purchases of candy or soft drinks, including candy and soft drinks sold in vending machines, are taxable at the state sales and use tax rate of 2.9 percent."

That's "Candy, meaning a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruit, nuts, or other ingredients or flavoring in the form of bars, drops or pieces." But get this: any goodies that contain flour will continue to be exempt.

Which means that even after May 1, you can continue to enjoy your Kit Kit (wheat flour is the second ingredient, right after sugar) or Twix, or Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme (although regular Hershey bars will not be exempt) or Twizzlers (wheat flour is listed second, right after yummy corn syrup) without being charged an extra 2.9 percent sin tax for doing so.

In deciding that flour made what might look like candy really qualify as food (which remains exempt from sales tax), Colorado just followed the lead of other states that now tax candy and soda, says the Department of Revenue's Mark Couch.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun