Sliced Bagel Tax Angers New Yorkers


headsets, the latest in bagel vending chic

At Bruegger's Bagels in Albany, New York, getting your bagel sliced is going to cost you an extra 8 cents. Not because the owner is a cheap jerk, although that's what many customers thought when the price increase was initially posted this summer. Instead, the use of knives in a bagel shop magically summons the tax man:

In New York, the sale of whole bagels isn't subject to sales tax. But the tax does apply to "sliced or prepared bagels (with cream cheese or other toppings)," according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. And if the bagel is eaten in the store, even if it's never been touched by a knife, it's also taxed.

This isn't an isolated incident, and stories like this are likely to become more common as state governments that are out of money start looking for ways to nickle and dime their taxpayers.

The artificial lines between necessary foodstuffs and taxable luxury items are particularly rich territory. For instance, in Colorado, Washington, and a few other states, a Kit Kat counts as tax-exempt food, but a Hershey bar is taxable candy, thanks to the presence of flour. Keep an eye out for more.

Via Crispy on the Outside.

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  1. I can’t believe these selfish businesses would pass this tax down to their customers. We created this tax to stick to it the greedy businessmen. Capitalism is evil.

    1. Yeah! Instead of taxing sliced bagels, they should just take over all the stores. Too bad the greedy capitalist would never let them do that.

  2. I remember similar bullshit taxes in Chicago. Egad.

    1. In Chicago, the tax is “to go”. In New York, the tax is “eat in”.

      Either way, totally stupid.

  3. I think they should institute a “bathroom tax” for all customers who are going to use in store restrooms as opposed to holding it until they get home.

    1. for all customers who are going to use in store restrooms as opposed to holding it until they get home relieving themselves on the leg of the tax man.

      1. On the contrary, I would pay a “piss on the tax man’s leg” tax willingly.

  4. Ever get food from the self-serve bar at a CA Whole Foods?

    At check out they ask if you’re eating it at the store, or taking it out.

    In the store = they are a restaurant, and the sales is subject to tax.

    Take out = it’s non-taxed foodstuffs.

    1. In MN, take and bake pizza (such as Papa Murphy’s) is tax free, but cooked pizza is taxed. It’s a very silly arbitrary distinction that adds a dollar to a cooked pizza. Carbone’s is worth the extra cost.

      1. So I go to Edwardo’s and ask for a stuffed spinach pizza but order them to freeze it while I wait. Ten hours later, I take it home, thaw it, cook it, consume it. Taxable event?

      2. It stems from ‘prepared food’ vs. unprepared food. It all stems from the attempt to make food purchased in a grocery store sales tax free so as not to be regressive.

        1. If there’s anything I hate more than taxes, it’s attempts at social engineering through taxes.

          1. What then, is the purpose of the tax code?

            1. Eggsactly.

  5. Perhaps this will encourage more New Yorkers to carry their own knives. I can’t think of any downside here…

  6. I’ll take a bagel, whole, with a schmear on the side.

    No thanks, I’ll use my own knife. Outdoors.

  7. So if you go buy some frozen Lender’s Bagels at the store (this is something ProL would do), and they’re sliced, do you have to pay tax on them?

    “Welcome back, Lord Nibbler, Ambassador to Earth, homeworld of the pizza bagel.”

    1. I’ve never even heard of such a thing, but I see that you are all too familiar with the many forms of pizza bastardization. No abomination of pizza, no matter how abominable, has failed to pass through that maw you call a mouth.

      1. And, yes, his comment was about pizza. All of his comments are about pizza.

  8. A sliced bagel tax is the only suitable punctuation for the long, rambling Joycean sentence that is the 20th century.

    1. Too bad it’s the 21st Century. But whateveeeer.

      1. Those who live by obscure humor are bound to die by it. Que sera.

        I regret nothing!

        1. and by obscure you mean…?

        2. I thought it was funny. +1

  9. Isn’t this a bit anti-Semitic at heart?

    1. Is that the nature of a question? There’s a nickel question tax.

    2. Give it a year. It’ll be two bits.

    3. There’s a nickel-nose joke there somewhere.

  10. Unwise to f*ck too much with middle/lower Americans and the sh*t we love to clog our arteries with, as we’d raze Canada to the ground if New England ever ran out of maple syrup!

    Times like this that I want to run amok like Ricky Bobby’s kids…

    Boy 1: “Anarchy! Anarchy!”
    Boy 2: “I don’t even know what that means but I want it!”

    1. How do you pronounce ‘*’?

      1. You pronounce that SHIT however the FUCK you want!

  11. This is why I always order “a doughnut (wink wink).”

    The customer is always right.

  12. I supposed you’d prefer it if they charged sales tax on everything.

    The state is attempting to provide clear rules to prevent the bare necessities of food and drink from being taxed. An unsliced bagel taken out of the store is just bread — in our culture, considered the barest of necessities — while the provision of chairs and tables to eat at or the use of a slicer or extra condiments is a taxable service. It’s not artificial at all (any more than any law is artificial).

    For instance, in Colorado, Washington, and a few other states, a Kit Kat counts as tax-exempt food, but a Hershey bar is taxable candy, thanks to the presence of flour.

    Speaking of rich territory, a supposedly libertarian magazine disparaging federalism…

    1. “”I supposed you’d prefer it if they charged sales tax on everything.””

      I think most here prefer no sales tax at all.

    2. Tulpa,

      You really don’t see the utterly retarded nature of this tax and when it is/is not imposed? Are you really rationalizing such a stupid line?

      So, if someone sits on a chair, or get’s unsliced bread sliced and bagged at a bakery, then it’s ok to tax? What about sliced bread in general- as opposed to unsliced.

      What a fucking moron.

      1. I suppose that depends if it’s sliced in the same state.

    3. Since when is federalism inherently libertarian?

      1. The only thing libertarian about federalism is that a strong federal system (meaning strong(er) states) is a check on the central government. Naturally, states and local governments are oppressive bastards in their own right.

        1. Also, a federal system results in competition between states to implement the best policies.

          1. Right, the fifty laboratories.

      2. The two are strongly correlated. Just like Reason would complain about election-rigging even though there’s nothing unlibertarian about it; democratic elections are strongly correlated with liberty.

    4. Sure, it’s not artificial, any more than any attempt by the state to squeeze even more money out of the people through any means possible.

    5. Speaking of rich territory, a supposedly libertarian magazine disparaging federalism…

      Is that DRINK to go?

      1. My God, I’m such a noob; what is this “DRINK!” meme I see popping up just about every article?

        1. It’s about drinking in the sweet liquor of freedom.

          1. I don’t think so; it seems to appear after someone makes a libertarian strawman or accuses Reason of not being libertarian. So I’m guessing it’s a drinking game.


            1. A drinking game? I’ll have you know that this is a dry site. Has been since Virginia Postrel was the editor, hallowed be her name. I haven’t subscribed since she was forced out in the Rectification of the Vuldrini.

              1. Be nice to the noob, Pro Lib. Tncm: drinking game.

                1. Aw, come on. I was achieving a state of almost perfect Calvindadism.

                  1. Sorry I interrupted before you reached Nerdvana.

                    1. I defy your suggestion that Calvin’s dad was a nerd. He’s the pinnacle of Fatherhood.

                    2. “You’re bored, you say? Would you like me to show you how a boat anchor works?”

                    3. I was thinking more along these lines:

                      Calvin: “Dad, how do people make babies?”

                      Calvin’s Dad: “Most people just go to Sears, buy the kit, and follow the assembly instructions.”

                      Calvin: “I came from Sears??”

                      Calvin’s Dad: “No, you were a blue light special at Kmart, almost as good, and a lot cheaper.”

                      Calvin: “Aauughhh!”

    6. “while the provision of chairs and tables to eat at or the use of a slicer or extra condiments is a taxable service. ”

      What about the provision of the service to remove the bagel from the basket and place it in a bag? Would that picking-and-bagging service render even an unsliced bagel taxable? It IS a service, after all. In NJ, there are no self-serve bagel joints that I know of, and out of principle and admiration for their greatness I only patronize one bagel place anyhow so I wouldn’t know if any self-serve places exist.

      1. Wegmans, dude.

    7. I have to agree with Tulpa on this one. This is presumably taxed as part of the restaurant tax. The discussion of whether or not a restaurant tax is OK is a separate issue. This “sliced bagel tax” appears just to be a change or clarification of the rules governing what is taxed as restaurant prepared food. Assuming it is OK to tax restaurant prepared food, and you don’t want to tax essential food items, there has to be some rule which distinguishes the two. This is already done in most states. It only draws attention when the rules change.

      1. But the act of slicing it is then, in itself, the act of restaurant preparation, right? I mean, if that’s what the line is for taxation. So, then, why is the slicing of any bread product not considered the same? You can go into a bakery or grocery store and ask them to slice a whole loaf for you and they don’t charge you for the service or for the tax.


        You see, then, that this is a massive conspiracy against the Jews right? JK, but really, you can see how it is STUPID at worse and inconsistent at best.

        1. You can go into a bakery or grocery store and ask them to slice a whole loaf for you and they don’t charge you for the service or for the tax.

          I have a feeling they’re going to be the next target. And they should be.

          1. Why “should they be”, Tulpa?

      2. Assuming it is OK to tax restaurant prepared food, and you don’t want to tax essential food items, there has to be some rule which distinguishes the two.

        See, kids, that’s what’s known as “Assuming Your Conclusion”.

        1. Not at all. Mangu-Ward is not arguing that the tax on sliced bagels is wrong, she’s arguing that it’s incoherent. Those rebutting her argument need not show that the tax is righteous.

    8. How about discouraging douchebag taxes like this one, Tulpa, instead of rah-rahing for it?

      Sorry, but bullshit like this arbitrary “sliced bagel tax” is just another win for fucking liberals. Why give them ammo to fuel their battles?

  13. There’s barely legible fine print at the very bottom… tough to make out… GOT IT:

    You get what you vote for, a-hole.

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.

    1. If that was really there… I’d be stopping at a Bruegger’s tomorrow to pick up a dozen bagels…

  14. Yup. When I worked in a bagel shop (WA state) tax applied to any type of bagel molestation.

  15. The truly sad part is that the extra $.08 on each bagel doesn’t net any more revenue for the state because they have to hire hundreds of inspectors and undercover shoppers to make sure stores are actually obeying all the strange tax laws.

    1. That’s not strange; that’s the point – to grow the armies of the state-employed.

  16. I’m surprised this is the first I’m hearing of it.

  17. Let me tell you how it will be;
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Should five per cent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    (if you drive a car, car;) – I’ll tax the street;
    (if you try to sit, sit;) – I’ll tax your seat;
    (if you get too cold, cold;) – I’ll tax the heat;
    (if you take a walk, walk;) – I’ll tax your feet.


    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Don’t ask me what I want it for, (ah-ah, Mr. Shulman)
    If you don’t want to pay some more. (ah-ah, Mr. Obama)
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Now my advice for those who die, (taxman)
    Declare the pennies on your eyes. (taxman)
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    And you’re working for no one but me.


    1. I’ve *NEVER* seen someone type out all those lyrics before on a story about taxes.

      1. Yes, yes, but it remains apropos. What, do you fear they’re going to run out of room for more original comments?

        I only posted the lyrics for one chorus, anyway:

        (if you drive a car, car;) – I’ll tax the street;
        (if you try to sit, sit;) – I’ll tax your seat;
        (if you get too cold, cold;) – I’ll tax the heat;
        (if you take a walk, walk;) – I’ll tax your feet.

      2. You just went FULL RETARD.

        1. Careful, PIP. He has… his own blog! < / dramatic_chipmunk >

            1. Can commenters on your blog post images, customize text size and color, and employ the BLINK tag?

              1. I have no idea. But they can type in < / dramatic_chipmunk > to help themselves feel witty.

                1. Spencer, you don’t have a brother named Steve, do you? Possibly roaming the Northwest woods?

                  1. No, my dad was named steve. He’s dead. I’ve got a brother named Stephen, but he roams the headshops of the outer Houston area, not the Northwest woods.

      3. Typing it out would have been providing a basic necessity for subsistence-living, but copying-and-pasting made it a service-enhanced taxable event. Thanks for playing.

        1. Damn it!

  18. More taxes please!

    1. With a side order of civilization!

      1. It’s NYC, there is very little that is civilized there,

  19. Mayor Quimby: We’re here to collect the $1,000 tax for wearing puffy director’s pants.

    Director: But I don’t wear puffy pants!

    Mayor Quimby: I meant the $1,000 tax for not wearing puffy pants.

    1. Plus the $100 for wearing/not wearing a belt.

      1. Don’t forget the use fee if you don’t employ union labor to buckle the belt.

        1. Actually, ProL, that comment is not me, though why someone would would spoof me and do nothing with the spoof is…unusual.

          1. How. . .odd.

          2. Epi – I think it’s my troll.

            1. Can I get a cut of the action?

              1. See, a troll is here.

            2. It was more interesting when it didn’t make any sense. I done been confused!

              1. Please don’t encourage the trolls.

                1. There’s something awfully recursive about today.

                  1. But that could just be me.

                    1. [Goes utterly insane.]

                    2. Sanity is just an illusion. Move to the dark side.

                    3. Never! I’ll never join you and your vacuous excuse for pizza!

                    4. Crap, I don’t even know if I’m arguing with Episiarch.

                    5. So, if you’re Episiarch, I insult your pizza. If you aren’t, well, I have nothing much to say to you.

                    6. No one is forcing you to eat it.

                    7. Okay, there is no way that banal weakness was uttered by Episiarch.

                    8. It wasn’t him, it was me.

                    9. So, by deleting the spoofbot’s comments, I now have six consecutive comments that make no sense for ALL TIME.

                      Make that seven comments.

  20. ” …for ways to nickle and dime their taxpayers.”

    Does this mean they’re gonna take European woodpeckers and dimes from their taxpayers, or does it mean that this article didn’t get proofed?

  21. I hope the ADL goes after these anti-Semetic laws that target Jewish breakfast foods. If they want to be fair, the tax should be applied to donuts (Evangelicals), Danish (Scandanavians), croissants (French and hipsters) and baklava (middle easterners).

    1. I thought baklava was Greek… oh well. Let’s not forget Toast- for boring people.

      1. I think that’s still debated. It apparently dates back to at least Byzantine times, but there’s some evidence that it’s Turkish in origin.

        Almost certainly the basis for another war over Cyprus, if you ask me.

        1. As if we needed another reason. Baklava bomb the place!

  22. At Bruegger’s Bagels in Albany, New York…

    I went to college in Albany. Before then I had never met a Jew. Or a bagel. But some organization or another sold bagels at night in the dorm lobby. They had regular, salt, poppy seed and onion. 15? for butter and 25? for cream cheese. I thought cream cheese was disgusting, and besides, I couldn’t afford it. So I got butter. This story has no moral. But the bagels were good. Even the New York Jews ate them. The end.

    1. I grew up in NH. I didn’t even know what Jew meant until High School, and that’s only because one kid in my class of 200 was Jewish. I knew the phrase “I got Jewed!” long before I knew it was an insulting stereotype.

      1. I always knew to get “gypped” was racist, but I don’t care. I’ve never met a gypsy.

        No, really, I had no idea what this meant when I was a kid. Still never met a gypsy though.

        1. I knew a Romanian girl who expressed to me an undying loathing for Gypsies.

          1. I knew a Czechs girl who felt the same way.

            1. I knew a French president who shared the sentiment as well.

              1. Anyway, now I make my own lox. True story.

                1. That’s impressive. Do you weld the steel using scuba or do you pump out the water first?

  23. I’m going to defend Tulpa here, becuase he’s right. NY has very specific rules about what constitutes taxable food sales. Some of it is arbitrary (candy and soda are taxable, most foods are not), but at least it’s clear.

    Food and beverages are exempt from sales tax except for candy and confectionary, most non-juice soft drinks, alcohol, and prepared or heated foods. Even among these categories there are specific exemptions.

    I can see how buttering a bagel would be considered “prepared food.” So I can see NY as having a case to make here.

    1. The whole “bare necessities” vs. “luxury” is entirely arbitrary. As is eat-in vs. take-out. It complicates everyone’s life and adds costs to everyone, including the poor and helpless that these arbitrary lines believe they are protecting.

      Tax simplification is fairer, and cheaper, for everyone.

    2. NY has very specific rules . . .

      That’s not a defense; that’s an indictment.

  24. Alright, those of you who think these rules are perfectly A-OK, I have a question:

    Why is sliced bread in the form of a bagel taxable, but sliced bread in the form of a loaf not taxable?

    1. I would like to read the state’s determination, but I would imagine that the buttering is the taxable service, not the slicing. It’s the additional preparation of the food for consumption (as opposed to the manufacturing of the food) to the normally nontaxable baked good that makes it taxable.

    2. You haven’t learned to think like a bureaucrat. If you don’t know the answer, then stay in the private sector.

  25. When I was in my early 20s, you could buy a bagel at a bakery for 8 cents. Now that’s the tax. Talk about inflation.

    In California for many years, you would be charged tax in a restaurant, but not if you bought your food to go. So if you changed your mind after getting your order, the server would ask for more money.

    When Pete Wilson was Governor, the Democrats in the legislature – with his collusion, passed a tax on snacks, applicable even if you bought them in a grocery store. Matzos would be tax free, but Matzo crackers were taxed. I think we might still have that tax.

    1. In California today, if you buy a sandwich at Subway in California, it’s $5. If you have it toasted, it’s $5.43.

      The reasoning is that a cold sandwich can be taken home and put in the fridge for later eating — just like groceries. But a hot sandwich is intended to be eaten now — a luxury.

      If you order soup with the sandwich, the whole thing is taxed, even if the sandwich is cold — because it’s going to be eaten now.

      1. Yo, RC, read Mike P’s post. This is a man that thinks like an unelected career bureaucrat. Learn at the hem of Mike P for a while, and you’ll get this whole legalized theft thing down pat.

        1. You need to distinguish “thinks like” from “happens to understand.”

          …or even from “happens to understand because he was curious one day why he had to pay Sacramento 43 cents for the privilege of a hot Subway sandwich, which doesn’t taste as good as the cold one anyway.”

          Just today I had one of those Subway sandwiches. Someone called while I was eating it and asked, “Is it hot?” to make sure they weren’t keeping me from my lunch. I responded, “I am not going to pay the state of California for the privilege of eating a hot sandwich.” That was all before reading this post and comments.

  26. If I slice the inspector’s throat, should I charge him the 8 cents, too?

  27. My wife says no bagel is as good as a NYC bagel. Why is that? Why can’t a bagel made on Hoboken be as good as one made in NYC? Me, I don’t eat bagels much so I’m not an expert.

    1. Doubt it. However, there is something about sourdough. It’s never as good as it is in Northern California.

      1. That would be the mother dough.

      2. And that is not Nancy Pelosi.

        1. Oh, I’m sure she’s pretty yeasty.

          1. We have a winner! She only would pizza is no one made quiche anymore.

          2. I think she injects money into her veins anyway. No time for food.

          3. Dangit! Can’t you just substitute new comments when you delete comments so I’m not talking to myself?

            1. I think making you look like a madman was the original endgame!

  28. A poor economy always exposes government for what it is: A racket of legalized thievery.

    1. Ding, ding, ding!

    2. Mencken said it best:

      Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.

  29. It stems from ‘prepared food’ vs. unprepared food. It all stems from the attempt to make food purchased in a grocery store sales tax free so as not to be regressive.

  30. That was all before reading this post and comments.

  31. You haven’t learned to think like a bureaucrat. If you don’t know the answer, then stay in the private sector.

  32. Why not charge extra when a somebody whants extra dark toast. It takes more electricity

  33. I don’t see a problem here.

  34. Fucking anti-taxers. There is nothing unreasonable about this. Bagels are bad for you, and they should cost twenty dollars each. PLUS tax.

    1. Tony’s joking, right? I mean, really he’s not advocating social engineering via taxation is he? He’s not saying that the government should control what we do and don’t eat by artificially increasing the cost of certain goods deemed “bad for you” by the government- who subsidizes some agriculture at the same time- is he?

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    YOUR NAME COULD CYCLE FOR A LONG TIME ! ! THIS MAKES IT THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. This is excellent seed money to start or expand a business, buy you dream home, car, and pay off what ever bills you may have.
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    WHY THIS PROGRAM WORKS: HONESTY AND INTEGRITY !! Straight to the point, the reason this program is SO SUCCESSFUL is because when you follow these instructions EXACTLY, i.e. give a $10 GIFT and POST this in 50 different message boards, there are only TWO outcomes.
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    BOTTOMLINE: Either you get the $10 or your name gets passed on for other people to give you $10 or pass your name on to other people that will. It makes you think though, the more you POST YOUR OWN POSTS, the BETTER the results ! !
    So there it is. You now have the knowledge that will enable you to make over $10,000 within the next two weeks. The only thing that can hold you back now is a lack of faith or a lack of self-belief. However, any doubts you may currently have will disappear within a few days of putting this plan into practice. Trust me on this! You certainly won’t regret it. What have you got to lose except $10?
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    Best Regards Mark Sutton

    P.S. Does this sound too good? Well maybe to some skeptics it is.
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    Good Luck and God Bless.

  36. First off, people who live in Albany aren’t, “New Yorkers” anymore. They’re “Albanians”. Albany is where the rest of NY state sends its lowest scum to legislate (or not!) the rest of our lives into misery.

    Also Bruegger’s Bagels is not a real bagel shop. Its a chain that makes Bagel shaped bread. I saw the first one in *Nashville* 14 years ago. I was appalled.

    Lastly, I think NYC jewish community should be up in arms about this. “First they came for the soda tax, and I did nothing, because I don’t drink soda…” Eli Zabar will form a small guerilla army to take over the state government.

    I suspect this one will be repealed… I don’t know if it applies in NYC, but if it does, dude, people will go @#*& ballistic… According to the article, apparently its only going after… what, that crappy Bagel chain? Man, those Albanians really are a bunch of idiots.

  37. This is insanity. Healthcare is a right, but food is some sort of negotiated luxury good?

  38. This is why I encourage my young sons to leave this sad state!!! Get with the program and start earning your pay checks!

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  42. When I was living in Montreal 15 years ago, the government had a 10% restaurant food tax that kicked in when a meal totaled above $3.25. Thats about what your average quick restaurant meal came to. Many restaurants had a set $3.25 meal that was really great. It seems absurd to charge a tax on a cheap sliced bagel

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