Food and Beverage Taxes
The state of Ohio only requires the taxation of food and beverage items if they are prepared foods for immediate consumption. At a restaurant, the entire meal, soda pop included, is taxed at the state and local tax rates when consumed on the premises. At the grocery store, most foods are not taxed, but an exception is made for certain non-alcoholic beverages.
The Soda Pop Exception
In Ohio, a non-alcoholic beverage that contains natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners is considered a soft drink and taxed at the standard sales tax rate. However, milk beverages and substitute milk drinks such as soy milk, almond milk and rice milk are not taxed, as is also true for drinks containing at least 50 percent juice. Both traditional and diet soda pop contain sweeteners, which makes them taxable beverages. Pop must be taxed both in a restaurant setting and when purchased at convenience or grocery stores.
Other Drinks Labeled as Soft Drinks
Within the state of Ohio, the term "soft drink" refers to more types of prepackaged sweetened drinks than carbonated beverages or pop alone. In terms of taxation, a "soft drink" is any beverage with sweeteners that does not fall into the exception categories specified by the state. Technically, mixed beverages such as prepackaged sweetened coffee drinks without milk content, sweetened tea, lemonade and fruit drinks with an actual juice content of less than 50 percent are soft drinks and taxed accordingly.
Sales Tax Rate
As of September 2011, the state sales tax rate in Ohio was 5.5 percent for goods and services. Soft drinks are also taxed at this rate. However, local governments may charge an additional sales tax for goods, services and prepackaged sweetened beverages. The highest sales tax rate in Ohio as of September 2011 was 8.5 percent.