HARTFORD, CT — Several Connecticut laws and taxes will change as the clock strikes midnight to ring in October. Among some of the biggest changes are an increase in the minimum wage and smoking age, along with increased taxes on prepared foods and digital purchases.
Below is a summary of some of the major changes:
The trade-in fee is going from $35 to $100 and is expected to bring in around $17.2 million over two years for Connecticut’s coffers. It is paid for by car dealers, but that doesn’t prevent them from passing the cost over to customers.
Gov. Ned Lamont originally proposed applying the state sales tax to vehicle trade-ins, which would have cost car buyers much more. A $10,000 trade-in would come with a more than $600 tax. The move was nixed along with many other taxes on services by the time the budget was approved.
Those who buy from a dealer can apply their trade-in credit to reduce the sales price and therefore taxes on purchases.
Connecticut’s full 6.35 percent sales tax will apply to digital purchases. That includes single-time buys such as renting or buying a digital movie and ongoing subscriptions like Spotify and Netflix.
Prepared meals tax
After much drama the new one percent tax on prepared meals at restaurants and grocery stores will go into effect Oct. 1. A few weeks ago the state Department of Revenue Services released an interpretation that would’ve applied the sales tax plus one percent tax on a number of grocery store items such as small bags of salad.
Republicans decried the tax and called for a special session. DRS reversed course and released a new interpretation so the tax will only apply to meals such as hot sandwiches served at grocery stores and restaurants.
A 40-cent per milliliter tax on pre-filled e-cigarette products and a 10 percent tax on all other e-cigarette products.
Short-term rental facilitators like Airbnb will have to collect and remit the state’s room occupancy tax.
A 10 percent increase on excises taxes for alcoholic beverages except for beer will take effect Oct. 1. Beer sold at craft breweries for off-premises consumption will be reduced by 50 percent starting Oct. 1.
Smoking age raised to 21
The smoking age will go from 18 to 21 in Connecticut. It also requires online e-cigarette dealers to obtain a signature from a person who is 21 or older upon delivery. Penalties are also increasing for those who sell to those under 21.
Minimum wage increase
The minimum wage will rise from $10.10 to $11 come Oct. 1. It will then increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15 come June 1, 2023. Future increases will be tied to the federal employment cost index.
Several gun safety and ghost gun laws will go into effect Oct. 1. The law will require safe storage of guns even when they are unloaded and they know that a minor under the age of 18 could gain access without parental permission.
Pistols and revolvers will have to be kept in a locked trunk, safe or locked glove box when left unattended in a motor vehicle.
Come Oct. 1 people won’t be able to create or transfer what is commonly referred to as a “ghost gun,” which is the process of creating a firearm that doesn’t have a unique serial number. Those who create such guns will be required to get a unique identifier from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. The law also bans the manufacture of firearms made from plastic that aren’t detectable through metal detectors.
Prepared foods tax
This one was a roller coaster the past couple of weeks. In a nutshell, there will be a new one percent tax on top of the regular sales tax for prepared meals from restaurants and supermarkets.
The state Department of Revenue Services released a policy statement in early September that included taxes on many common supermarket items like bags of lettuce eight ounces and under, meal replacement bars and a whole assortment of items.
Legislative Republicans decried the law and demanded a special session to correct language. They weren’t in favor of the new one percent tax at any point, but said that Democrats should fix their own mistake.
DRS issued a new policy statement that limits the tax at supermarkets. Things like a hot grinder will be taxed, but a bag of lettuce won’t.
Connecticut’s 6.35 percent sales tax will apply to digital purchases, including subscriptions such as Spotify. Paying Spotify members were notified recently that they will be charged up to 96 cents extra per month depending on their selected plan.
Vehicle theft by minors
Minors charged with stealing or misusing a vehicle can participate in a program to address conditions or behavior related to stealing. The charge can be dismissed upon successful use of the program along with complying with certain conditions.
The program can’t be used more than once and can’t be used for serious juvenile offenses.
The bill was passed in a bipartisan fashion with overwhelming support from legislative Democrats and Republicans.
The law clarifies what counts as “upskirting” or the act of taking video or photos of someone’s private area by photographing under or around a person’s clothing. A person found “upskirting” can be subject to either a class D or class C felony.
PTSD workers’ compensation for police officers, parole officers, firefighters
The above mentioned will be eligible to receive certain workers’ compensation benefits for post traumatic stress disorder causes by certain “qualifying events.” The qualifying events include seeing a dead minor’s body, witnessing a death or losing a vital body part through injury. The time period for workers’ compensation is 52 weeks and within four years of the qualifying event.
TRUST Act updates
The updates to the law prevents law enforcement officers from detaining someone for immigration purposes unless a detainer is accompanied by a signed judicial warrant. It also limits when law enforcement officers can disclose confidential information to a federal immigration authority.
Transgender panic defense
The act prohibits people from claiming a transgender panic defense in justification of a crime, such as when someone makes a non forcible, but unwanted romantic or sexual advance or was in a dating relationship.
Transparent sentencing data
The new law will require data regarding prosecution and parole decisions to be collected and analyzed. The goal is to bring more transparency to things including parole decisions and criminal sentencings.
Changes in opioid laws
The law makes several changes to the opioid prescription process, including requiring practitioners who prescribe more than a 12-week supply to establish a treatment agreement or discuss a care plan with a patient.
Sellers of residences with crumbling foundations must disclose any information about issues to the potential buyer. The law also added a new supplemental loan program.
Check out a full summary of the new laws taking effect on the Connecticut General Assembly site.