I want my $.23 back
August 8, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

TaxFilter: i just bought a sandwich and a bottled drink at the deli, and they rang up the sales tax on the total. isn't the drink considered a grocery? i thought they could only charge tax on food they prepare.

i live in new york, if this is a state thing...
posted by cgs to Law & Government (9 answers total)
It is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:57 AM on August 8, 2006

"nonessential" drinks, like sodas and other non-milk beverages, tend to be taxed. Additionally, you ARE buying at a deli, which, being a place that sells prepared foods, is not considered for tax purposes a grocery store (though they may not have to charge tax on sliced meats sold by the pound)
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:02 AM on August 8, 2006

thanks doctorfedora... that seems odd, since my big supermarket also makes sandwiches (no tax there), compared to this small deli which also sells cheerios and produce, etc..
posted by cgs at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2006

Soft drinks, unlike Ovaltine or Slim Fast , are taxed in New York. See this illuminating list.

(I found it by googling the following: new york state tax on food)
posted by Xalf at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2006

thanks xalf!
posted by cgs at 10:12 AM on August 8, 2006

It is very much a state thing and I think almost all have their peculiarities. In my home state of Florida, for example, a chocolate filled cookie falls into a different category that a chocolate covered cookie. I wouldn't be surprised to find that I am sometimes taxed when I should not be, and vice-versa.

If it consoles you at all you can be reasonably certain that the tax you are charged is almost always the tax paid to the state. Most merchants are going to report based on what their registers record - the penalties for violation are not worth the couple percent they could pocket on occasion.
posted by phearlez at 10:30 AM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem with my midtown Manhattan deli, which charges sales tax on orange juice. It's only a few cents, but it drives me mad--in response I've started buying my OJ at the supermarket and commuting with it. (Which, come to think of it, is 30 cents less per day than the deli on top of the sales tax omission, so I'm spending a lot less.)

Odds are the deli manager finds it easier to tax everything and figure it out later than to build exceptions into the register and teach the staff how to spot taxable and non-taxable items.
posted by werty at 10:43 AM on August 8, 2006

Odds are the deli manager finds it easier to tax everything and figure it out later

I'm sure getting $0.23 more has nothing to do with it.. On the other hand, when it is a neighborhood deli, you don't even know if the owner knows the rules..

In Ontario, you can find McDonald's that don't properly account for provincial sales tax exceptions - wtf!
posted by Chuckles at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2006

I think this is mainly a New York deli thing. Their enforcement of regulations is totally arbitrary and meaningless.

A couple of particular delis I know of are so infuriating about this that I completely avoid them. If you confront them about the charge, they'll just make up whatever excuse to explain it away.
posted by hermitosis at 12:37 PM on August 8, 2006

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