Everything You Need To Know About Restaurant Taxes

Whereas tax season solely comes annually within the US, there are a selection of issues you need to be monitoring and documenting all year long in terms of your restaurant taxes.

Hold studying to search out out:

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How a lot are eating places taxed?

Eating places get taxed on a number of fronts, like every other enterprise. Relying on how worthwhile the restaurant is, the place it’s situated, how massive the property is and what number of staff they’ve, eating places could be taxed as much as tens of 1000’s of {dollars} per 12 months.

Beneath are the most typical forms of restaurant taxes that you just as an proprietor should be paying, however be sure to examine together with your native and state governments to make sure that you aren’t lacking something when tax season rolls round.

Federal earnings tax

All restaurant homeowners have federal earnings taxes imposed upon them. This earnings tax is positioned upon what you are promoting and private earnings, and what you are promoting and private bills can each be deducted. Hold studying to see extra on which bills could be deducted for restaurant homeowners.

Payroll tax

Restaurant homeowners are required to pay the taxes on their worker’s wages. This will embody Medicare, unemployment and Social Safety, which could be taxed ranging wherever from 2.9-12%. 

Tax on restaurant ideas

As a result of it’s arduous to know simply precisely how a lot a server will make in ideas, the taxes on tipping in eating places could be complicated. For the most effective outcomes, you’ll need to document each money ideas and people logged within the restaurant POS

From each day tip intakes to how a lot staff are splitting amongst one another, if a server doesn’t make greater than $20 monthly, they don’t have to report it. Nevertheless, (hopefully) a server will likely be taking dwelling greater than that monthly. For extra on the Employer’s tasks dealing with this, take a look at the official web page on ideas being taxed from the IRS.


This can be a comparatively new phenomenon in restaurant taxes, however some counties are imposing taxes on merchandise that they discover dangerously unhealthy. In the identical approach that cigarettes are taxed closely to discourage individuals from buying them, Prepare dinner County in Illinois tried so as to add a tax to sugary sodas being served in eating places. The tax would cost $0.01 per ounce of soda and add an additional $35+ {dollars} to 1 container of soda syrup. The invoice was overturned in late 2017 however copycat tax proposals have popped up since.


Restaurant gross sales tax by state and metropolis

The tax on restaurant meals is sort of at all times in that state’s Gross sales and Use Tax, plus regardless of the metropolis or county’s gross sales tax is on high of that. Beneath are among the hottest state and metropolis restaurant taxes. 

Virginia restaurant tax: As of January 1st, 2020, the common tax on ready meals in Virginia is 5%. There’s a 2.5% tax on meals generally, however in sure counties and cities, eating places can cost as much as 6.5% on high of this relying on the place it’s situated. Discover out extra on Virginia’s Tax Web site.

NYC restaurant tax: Being dwelling to among the world’s finest eating places, it is sensible NYC would even have excessive taxes. The NYC restaurant tax is 8.875%. That is the mixture of New York Metropolis’s 4.5% tax on the service, New York State’s gross sales tax of 4% and the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District’s tax of 0.375% for complete gross sales. You’ll find out extra at NYC.gov.

California restaurant tax: The California restaurant tax price varies relying on what county the institution is situated in. Nevertheless, it can fall between the vary of seven.25% and 10.25%. To seek out out what it’s in your county, take a look at California’s full record of Metropolis and County Gross sales & Use Tax Charges.

Chicago restaurant tax: As of January 1st, 2020, the Chicago restaurant tax is .5%, nonetheless, along with the state’s 6.25% tax on meals, the county’s 1.25% tax and the town’s tax of 1.25%, Chicago, the entire tax Chicago-based eating places face is 9.25%. Discover out extra in regards to the metropolis’s taxes on Chicago’s authorities tax record.

Massachusetts restaurant tax: The Massachusetts tax on meals offered by eating places is 6.25%, that is true for all cities and counties in MA, together with Boston. This should be collected from the purchaser and individually acknowledged and charged on the invoice. Be taught extra in regards to the meals tax on Mass.gov.

Washington, DC restaurant tax: The DC restaurant tax is among the highest within the nation, with institutions being charged 10% for meals and liquor consumption. Discover out extra in regards to the District of Columbia’s taxes from the web site of the Workplace of the Chief Monetary Officer.

Utah restaurant tax: Relying on which county the enterprise is situated in, the restaurant tax in Utah can vary from 6.10% to 10.05%. To seek out out what the speed is in your particular county, see Utah’s tax information.

Florida restaurant tax: The restaurant tax price in Florida is 6%, along with the tax price decided by the county, which you’ll be able to study extra about on the Florida Division of Income’s web site.

Seattle restaurant tax: The restaurant tax in Seattle is a mixed 10.1%, with Washington State’s Gross sales and Use tax of 6.5% and Seattle’s metropolis tax of three.6%. You’ll find out extra about particular county gross sales tax charges from Washington State’s Division of Income.

Texas restaurant tax: The Texas restaurant tax is, at most, 8.25%. The state tax in Texas is 6.25% and relying on the county the restaurant is situated in there might be as much as a further 2%. The Texas Comptroller’s web site has extra info.

New Jersey restaurant tax: The New Jersey restaurant tax is 6.625%. That is the tax price of Gross sales of Companies within the state and has been in impact since 2018. Extra info could be discovered on the web site of the NJ Division of The Treasury

These are just some of the extra generally requested about state and metropolis restaurant tax charges. If it is advisable to discover out extra about your particular space’s restaurant tax price, have a look at your state’s Division of Income or Division of Treasury on-line.


Tax deductions for restaurant homeowners to remember

Restaurateurs know that revenue margins on this business are slim, so saving cash all over the place you possibly can is of the utmost significance. So when Tax Season rolls round, you’ll need to ensure you’re deducting every thing you possibly can out of your earnings tax. Listed here are a number of tax reductions for restaurant homeowners that you just gained’t need to neglect.


We all know how arduous it’s to get your identify on the market amongst the noise of the restaurant business, and advertising doesn’t come low cost. When contemplating tax-deductible advertising techniques, you’ll need to ensure you’re protecting all channels. In case you’re paying for Fb, Google or Yelp promotions, be sure these are accounted for. 

In fact, extra conventional promoting applies too. TV, radio, and newspaper advertisements can value a handful and is certainly one thing you’d need to take off of your earnings. 

Staffing prices

Between FOH and BOH, there are a number of roles a restaurant can’t operate with out. All of those salaries could be deducted from a restaurant proprietor’s earnings tax, together with the meals offered to staff between shift modifications. The proprietor will nonetheless individually should pay their payroll tax, talked about above.


You’ll be able to’t put together the most effective meal on the town with out the most effective gear. When contemplating deductibles out of your earnings tax, make sure you keep in mind the price of ovens, fryers, stoves, dishwashers and the fee to keep up all of them. 

Meals prices

Your meals prices can vary wherever from 28% to 40% of your income, relying in your restaurant’s idea. No matter your preferrred meals value is, you’re going to need to write off the price of these components. 

Authorized charges

Beginning a restaurant includes loads of paperwork. The entire licenses and permits a restaurateur must legally function together with submitting logos, enterprise names and paid authorized counseling can rack up prices, all of which could be deducted from a restaurant proprietor’s taxes.

Insurance coverage

Restaurant insurance coverage, enterprise insurance coverage, worker insurance coverage, insurance coverage for supply automobiles—all of those are tax deductions for restaurant homeowners.

Desk gadgets

Mainly something on the desk when a buyer sits down could be deducted from a restaurant proprietor’s taxes. Menus, napkins, ketchup, appetizer plates, utensils, glasses and the rest a buyer may have to take pleasure in their meals could be written off.


Suggestions and tips from specialists on restaurant taxes

With many cities and states within the U.S. regulating taxes in their very own approach, eating places can find yourself muddling via complicated layers and price constructions.

“Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have gross sales taxes, and numerous native jurisdictions even have gross sales taxes in varied types,” says BDO USA managing director Mike Feiszli, who advises nationwide restaurant purchasers on a spread of tax and monetary consulting companies. “With so many tax codes, tax bases, definitions, exemptions and tax charges in varied combos, no two tax codes or jurisdictions are precisely the identical.”

He continues, declaring that the confusion extends to eating places particularly: “On the identical time, totally different authorities our bodies have totally different tax charges for restaurant gross sales for a similar causes there are totally different tax charges for gross sales of different tangible private property or taxable companies—the state could tax sure gross sales, whereas different native taxing authorities could not, or vice versa.”

For instance, totally different jurisdictions outline taxable “meals” otherwise, in addition to the taxability of drinks (alcoholic or in any other case) which can be offered with meals, that means they might all have totally different tax charges. 

Relying upon the jurisdiction, the state could have the authority to levy the gross sales tax, and even a number of taxes, along with the state.

“Many components go into figuring out gross sales tax charges, together with different taxes which can be additionally levied in or by a jurisdiction; exemptions or exclusions which may be relevant; and whether or not a enterprise is situated in a specific ‘zone’ that will create exemption or taxability, like leisure areas, resort areas, enterprise zones, historic districts, etcetera,” Feiszli says. “Finally, the choice rests with the taxing authorities, and, to some extent, the constituents and companies, to find out what’s taxable and the relevant price.”

Richard Auxier, a analysis affiliate on the Tax Coverage Middle, headquartered in Washington, DC, notes that within the broadest sense, states will usually levy normal gross sales tax and earnings tax, the place localities add in property taxes. Cities and municipalities can also add additional gross sales tax in the event that they want extra income.

“What cities will typically do is have taxes on restaurant meals which can be larger than common gross sales tax, the identical approach they’d for a resort or rental automobiles,” he says. “The rationale they do that is that persons are coming from outdoors the town to make use of them on larger ranges, and utilizing the town’s assets, so they need to contribute.”

Widespread cities like Washington, DC, New York Metropolis and Philadelphia can cost larger taxes as a result of they comprehend it won’t be sufficient to maintain vacationers from visiting and eating out. However when smaller cities depend on guests, proposals to extend restaurant taxes are sometimes met with resistance.

In Alexandria, Virginia, restaurant homeowners are against plans that may enhance the native meal tax from 4 to five p.c, in an effort to lift roughly $4.75 million yearly to fund reasonably priced housing. Since Virginia already locations a separate 6% tax on meals, homeowners argue rising the native tax price offers a bonus to eating locations in close by D.C., which has 4% tax, and Fairfax, Virginia, which has no native meal tax in any respect.

“You don’t need to make your charges too excessive to discourage individuals from utilizing the restaurant and there’s no science to that,” Auxier says. “You don’t need to influence individuals’s choices on the place they exit to eat.”

Margaret Janowsky, co-owner of Del Ray Café in Alexandria, says whereas she couldn’t ask for a extra supportive and caring neighborhood, the meal tax enhance has many implications, direct and oblique, to the eating places within the space.

“Immediately, the economics of it principally is that it’ll maintain down costs and, subsequently, wages. Wages for the people who want reasonably priced housing essentially the most,” she says. “Primary economics dictates that the market can solely bear a sure value. The extra taxes, the much less the restaurant will get for his or her product. The much less they get, the much less they will pay. Easy.”

Not directly, she provides, analysis reveals that because the economic system tightens, individuals exit much less typically. 

Alexandria’s present mixed native and state meal tax price of 10% is similar as DC and Arlington, Virginia. Nevertheless, the close by Fairfax County and the state of Maryland each have a 6% state tax solely. A rise in Alexandria’s native meal tax would tip them excessive.

“With the extra 1 p.c, we turn out to be the best within the area,” Janowsky says. “And we’re not solely competing for patrons, however we’re additionally competing for good staff. Consequently, we are going to now be the best value choice for patrons with the bottom obtainable margin to pay our staff.”

A number of tax layers are inclined to happen in jurisdictions which have a house rule or a number of prospects for native taxation that will or might not be levied along with the state tax. For instance, many states and their jurisdictions range in how they tax drinks; sweetened mushy drinks, wine and beer, arduous alcohol and different forms of drinks could all have totally different tax charges relying in your location.

“In lots of instances, the state stands out as the amassing company for all or a number of of the native jurisdictions, however the tax is basically composed of a state portion and a number of native or particular taxes,” Feiszli says. “There can also be layers of excise tax paid on the distributor degree, which is then constructed into pricing or handed via to the retailer or patrons.”

Feiszli notes that states with native/dwelling rule legal guidelines and a number of tax charges are typically essentially the most troublesome to navigate, particularly if the house rule jurisdiction is in shut proximity to different dwelling rule jurisdictions that deal with gross sales of meals, alcohol, carbonated drinks, or different gadgets bought or offered by eating places otherwise.

“Any states with a number of charges and/or native taxing choices are rather more difficult than a state-only taxing jurisdiction,” he says. “No two tax jurisdictions are the identical, and enlargement into new tax jurisdictions might not be ‘enterprise as typical.’”


Handle your funds smarter

A totally built-in restaurant administration system may help you retain monitor of gross sales, payroll and different accounting duties in order that when it comes time for tax season you’re not left digging via containers of receipts. Get in contact with one in every of our specialists to study extra about how Small Biz Sense may help.

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.