Rhode Island General Assembly

Office of the House Minority Caucus

 

Representative Rea Bill Sunsets RI’s Meal and Beverage Tax

 

State House, Providence – The impact inflation is having on full service meal prices, compounded with the state’s meal and beverage tax, may disincentivize patrons from dining out—this on top of the recent transportation hurdles Rhode Islanders are facing with the Washington Bridge closure. These circumstances are hurting businesses as well as local economies.

The sunset bill for the Rhode Island meal and beverage tax (H 7675), sponsored by Representative Brian Rea (District 53, Glocester/Smithfield), implements incremental decreases to the tax rate until it is eliminated, giving municipalities time to adjust to the reduction in revenues. The bill authorizes an annual 0.25% reduction of the local meals and beverage tax effective January 1, 2025; ending January 1,2029.

Local meals and beverage taxes are imposed on all prepared foods sold in the state and are administered and collected by the RI Division of Taxation. Currently the rate is 1% on a business’ taxable food sales gross receipts which is levied on top of the state’s 7% sales tax, and is filed monthly (an extra burden on small business owners in the food industry). When patrons go to a restaurant in Rhode Island they are paying 8% on their tab (unlike MA at 7% and CT at 7.35%). Though this may not sound like much, Rhode Island, along with the rest of the U.S., is currently facing exceptionally high inflation, with prices of food items alone increasing consecutively for the past two months and food away from home prices increasing year-over-year by 6%. Full service meals have increased in price by approximately 5.1% year-over-year.

With extreme increases in food costs, the recent overall inflationary burdens placed on Rhode Islanders, and the large percentage of employees supported in our food industry, removing the food and beverage tax in Rhode Island is not only responsible, but I would say, necessary,” said Representative Rea. The hospitality industry is still feeling the ramifications from the pandemic. We need this industry to be robust, especially in sustaining our local economies.

 

House Speaker Mike Johnson and Former President Trump are at Mar-a-Lago in Florida talking "election interference." Johnson said election integrity is tied to border security because the Biden administration is encouraging illegal aliens to register for benefits. Johnson says once that happens you can also register to vote. Johnson added he's going to introduce legislation requiring voters prove they are Americans. Trump said the upcoming election the most important in the history of our nation.        Authorities say one person is dead after the driver of a stolen 18-wheeler has intentionally crashed into a Texas DPS office. DPS officials say at least 14 people were hurt after the truck crashed into the office in Brenham. DPS says the driver has been arrested and was angry he was denied a commercial driver's license yesterday.        Vice President Kamala Harris is in Arizona today after the state supreme court upheld a near-total ban on abortions that was put in place 160 years ago. She's in Tucson [[ Too-sahn ]] for an event focusing on abortion and the Biden administration's efforts to keep abortion legal. She told the crowd the fight for abortion is a fight for freedom. Arizona is considered a battleground state in this year's election, which President Biden narrowly won in 2020.        There are new security warnings for Americans in Israel. The U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a security alert restricting travel for government employees and their families outside certain areas "until further notice." This comes after reports Iran will launch a retaliatory strike on Israel after an area near its embassy in Syria was targeted.        Longtime PBS news anchor Robert MacNeil has died at the age of 93. He was the co-anchor of "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report," and "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour," for over two decades. Launched in 1975, the show later expanded from a 30-minute time slot to become the country's first hour-long nightly news broadcast. His daughter confirmed his passing today.       Day two of The Masters is underway. The first major event of the year is taking place at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The first round had to be wrapped up on Friday after play was postponed yesterday due to darkness. The cut line is currently projected at four-over-par. Tiger Woods finished his first round at one-over-par.