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Law exempts restaurants from tax on worker meals

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday signed into law a bill to exempt restaurants from paying sales tax on the free meals they provide for their employees.

Current law enabled the Department of Revenue to charge both sales tax and business and occupation tax on the free meals restaurants often provide for their employees during their shifts.

But supporters of the bill said this was unfair, since those meals were given at a cost and weren’t bringing in any new revenue.

Supporters say the bill encourages restaurants to continue feeding their employees and argued that employees would otherwise be forced to eat off-site and pay out of their usually low wages to do so.