Employee Meals

Employee Meals https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/salmon-1312372_1280.jpg

Are employee meals subject to tax?

Meals and beverages provided to the restaurant’s employees without charge are exempt from sales and B&O tax. This exemption does not extend to alcoholic beverages, nor to meals or beverages provided to non-restaurant employees. Sales tax applies if the employee is charged for the meal.

Alcoholic beverages and free meals provided to non-restaurant employees are subject to sales tax.

Restaurant operators that charge employees for meals continue to be taxed on such charges.

What is exempt?

  • “Meals” provided without specific charge to employees are exempt.
  • “Meals” means one or more items of prepared food or beverages, but does not include alcoholic beverages.

Who may claim the exemption?

This exemption extends only to “restaurants.” A “restaurant” is any establishment having special space and accommodation where food and beverages are regularly sold to the public for immediate, but not necessarily on-site, consumption.

Who may not claim the exemption?

The exemption does not extend to grocery stores, mini-markets, convenience stores or businesses making sales through vending machines or through mobile sales units such as catering trucks or sidewalk vendors of food or beverage items.

For more information:

Visit the Department of Revenue website at dor.wa.gov, send an email to dorcommunications@dor.wa.gov or call the department’s telephone information center at 800.647.7706.


RCW 82.04.040, RCW 82.08.010, WAC 458-20-124, WAC 458-20-119



Rev. 1/27/17

This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

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Categories: HERO