Local Government and Politics, News

Nahant Town Meeting is asked to swallow a meals tax

Nahant Town Hall. (Spenser R. Hasak)

NAHANT — Voters at this year’s Town Meeting will consider adopting a local meals tax expected to bring in $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

“It is estimated that if the town had adopted this in 2009 when it started, we would have collected almost half a million dollars by now,” said Town Administrator Tony Barletta.

The state already imposes a 6.25 percent sales tax on meals sold by or bought from restaurants. A meal is subject to the tax if it is prepared for immediate consumption and provided by a restaurant or restaurant section of a store.

A city or town can impose an additional local excise tax on sales occurring within that city or town. The rate is .75 percent of the vendors’ gross receipts from meal sales, bringing the rate to 7 percent.

“For a $10 sandwich, right now, you pay 62.5 cents of tax, If this local meals tax goes through, you would pay 70 cents,” said Barletta.

Meals served at the town’s restaurants, Tides Restaurants & Pub, Dunkin’ Donuts, Seaside Pizza, and a few function halls that offer catering, would be subject to the tax. It wouldn’t apply to sales on grocery items at Seaside Variety, the town’s convenience store.

“This is probably the only revenue stream for the town that isn’t 100 percent funded by Nahant residents,” said Barletta. “You’re going to have folks coming into town and going to our restaurants or using the function halls for weddings and events.”

The tax is added and goes straight to the state. The state turns around and sends a quarterly check to the town. This places a minimal administrative burden on the town, which is important because the municipality has limited staff.

Barletta will discuss this article, as well as others appearing on the warrant, at a community conversation he’s hosting at Nahant Town Hall Wednesday at 6 p.m. The event won’t be a discussion on whether residents should or should not vote for something, but a chance for the Town Administrator to explain what voters are being asked to vote on.

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