How to Calculate Tax at Restaurants

by Kaye Morris ; Updated September 11, 2015

The sales tax charged on restaurant tabs differs among municipalities based on local and state sales tax levels. While in many municipalities groceries are not subject to sales tax, prepared food is. Some municipalities assess sales tax on restaurant purchases at the same rate as other taxable purchases, but some municipalities charge less or more sales tax on restaurant sales based on current legislation. In order to ascertain that the amount of sales tax you are charged in a restaurant is the correct amount, you need to do a little research before dining out.

Obtain the address of the restaurant to determine the city for the restaurant.

Perform an Internet search for the city plus “sales tax rate.” The search will likely return a government office for the city that has the sales tax rates posted on the website.

Locate the sales tax rate and make sure the city does not list any special sales tax rules that apply to restaurants. Jot down the sales tax rate to take with you to the restaurant.

Multiply your total bill before sales tax charges times the sales tax rate. Do not include the tip in the total amount of the bill. For example, if the bill is $20 and the sales tax rate is five percent, then $20.00 times .05 equals $1.00.

Check the bill to see if the sales tax charged on the bill is equal to your calculated amount. If not, ask to speak to a restaurant manager and have him explain the difference.

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About the Author

Kaye Morris has over four years of technical writing experience as a curriculum design specialist and is a published fiction author. She has over 20 years of real estate development experience and received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from McNeese State University along with minors in programming and English.