Vending Machine Snacks and Drinks May Be Taxed

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

That cold can of cola you buy from the vending machine on your lunch break could soon cost you a few more coins.

Governor Granholm wants to start taxing the snacks and drinks sold from vending machines in Michigan.

"It will provide us with additional revenue, nearly $30 million," says Budget Office spokesman Greg Bird. He says food that isn't considered immediately consumable, like items you buy at the grocery store, isn't taxed. For years, most vending machine food has fallen under that category. But the Governor says vending machine items are, in essence, bought to consume right away. Governor Granholm wants to close that loophole.

"We need to find new streams of revenue that will help us fund schools, universities, health care, everything else," Bird says.

But vending machine owner Mike Bahls disagrees with the Governor's idea.

"It puts vending machine owners at an unfair disadvantage. People can buy a bag of chips from the store and not be taxed, and they buy the same bag of chips from the vending machine and they would be taxed."

The vending machine owners we spoke to Sunday say adding sales tax to their products would be financially devastating for them. And they say their customers are going to end up paying a lot more for their snacks."

"Customers will see an increase in price for the things they buy," Bahls agrees.

Bird says it would be up to individual vendors on how they'd compensate for paying sales tax. But he says they shouldn't be complaining.

"They have in effect been getting a tax break for all these years."

But if the Governor gets her way, that may soon change.


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