Anton Watman via shutterstock

HARTFORD, CT — The Department of Revenue Services is seeking to make sure its previous guidance on the meals tax is repealed during the regular legislative session that starts on Feb. 5.

Last year the agency wrote guidance to advise grocery and convenience stores about how they should handle the new meals and drink tax. The guidance was withdrawn after Gov. Ned Lamont and Democratic legislative leaders asked the agency to reconsider it.

“At your request, the DRS has re-evaluated its initial interpretation of the 2019 legislation,” former DRS Commissioner Scott Jackson wrote to the governor and lawmakers in September.

He said there is “an alternative, and defensible, interpretation that more closely aligns with the language of the statute and the clear intent of the Legislature.”

Lamont and Democratic lawmakers said expanding the additional 1% tax to items in the grocery store that previously weren’t taxed was not what they intended. They simply sought to increase the sales tax rate by 1% on grocery store items that were already taxed at 6.35%, such as catered services or food served in an area where it could be consumed on-site.

Republicans were quick to criticize Democratic lawmakers for the tax, but were happy to see the agency looking to clarify it.

“The only way to fix the law and truly protect taxpayers from the Democrats’ grocery tax is to change the language and pass a new statute,” Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said. “Republicans called for this to happen last year, but Democrats refused, because either they couldn’t admit they made a mistake, or at some point when the public isn’t looking, they plan to enforce the existing language, tax groceries and hide behind the language of the law.”

The change in language is one of the proposals the agency made to the Office of Policy and Management.