On Saturday, Ernie and I walked over to Windy City Sweets on Broadway to get birthday treats for his dad. It's an adorable old-style candy shop with ice cream and bakeries. The two associates in the store were extremely helpful in identifying gluten-free candies. They also told us of this new tax rate in IL that went into effect last September.
Get this - if a candy product has wheat in it, it's considered a "foodstuff" and is taxed at 2.5%, the grocery rate. Think: chocolate covered pretzels, s'mores, chocolate covered graham crackers, chocolate covered cookies.
For all other candy that has no wheat, it's taxed at a higher rate of 10.25%!! This includes gummy bears, hard boiled candy, chocolate covered nuts (what? nuts aren't a foodstuff? They have more protein than wheat!), etc. The hope is the taxes will contribute to the state's $31 Billion public works program. The upside to implementing this new tax rate is that we didn't get a 50% income tax hike.
I pulled the following info off this website:
High tax candy items are: chocolate bars; yogurt or chocolate covered fruit or nuts; honey coated nuts; caramel popcorn; lollipops; snack mixes containing yogurt or chocolate; breath mints; and gum.
Low tax candy items are: chocolate covered cookies; yogurt covered pretzels; "candy" that contains flour; plain dried fruits; and nuts with no added sweeteners.
While I get the intention to make money by taxing unhealthy foods, then shouldn't all of those items (except dried fruits and nuts) also fall into the high tax candy item list? It's been said that the "sin" tax on cigarettes was exceedingly effective in reducing the incidence of smoking. If this tax is supposed to get people to avoid bad-for-you foods, then chocolate covered cookies should also be added to the "high tax" list. Why not twinkies or ho-hos, little debbie treats - all are made with flour so avoid the high-tax rates; yet all are much worse for you than a handful of chocolate covered nuts.
Did you know that licorice is made with wheat? So for you non-gluten eating friends out there, you better back off the licorice too, even though it looks like its made of sugar and flavoring! Also, be careful of peanut butter cups. Sometimes manufacturers will add flour to the peanut butter filling. You can probably just check your receipt for the tax rate. If it's 2.5%, don't eat it.
A lot can be learned by talking to the friendly men in the candy shop!
Windy City Sweets
3308 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois 60657