Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pita and Taxes

Serach went to buy pita for dinner from a local establishment. She asked the person behind the counter, who's Chassidish, if they took the Lander discount card (a card issued to Lander students, kollel members, alumni, and their spouses), to which the man replied "I remember the guy came in here... you know what, yes, I'll take it." He promptly took off 10%, leaving the bill at about $3. Serach then asked about paying using a debit card, to which he replied "Why not?" When she asked if there were a minimum, he noted simply "No, that's illegal."

This is in stark contrast to another establishment which was happy to take the card... but only if you paid cash. As the owner told Serach, "If I take credit then I have to pay taxes on it!" Serach replied that he has to pay taxes either way, and left.

The best way of putting it: A family friend of my in-laws (IIRC) tells customers who ask about tax, "I don't charge tax. I just collect it."


  1. It was never illegal to set a minimum, it was against the card companies' agreements with merchants. However, in the Health Reform bill, they made that provision illegal and whenever that comes into effect, there can be a minimum.

  2. Only patronize stores that include the applicable sales tax in the bill.

    If they tell you to pay with cash or a check made out to cash, they may not be collecting tax. They may also be keeping some income off the books or not declaring it in their returns.

    One seforim store guy once told me with a straight face that religious books weren't subject to sales tax!

  3. ZZB - Illegal was probably the wrong term to use; against what they're allowed to do as per their agreements is correct, thanks.

    Interesting, I wasn't aware of that provision.

    RAM - Easier solution: Only pay with debit, never use cash. :)

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  5. I pay with a credit card most of the time. I don't like to carry a lot of cash. Most accept it for any amount. But some stores request a minimum purchase of $10 or so for a credit card payment. Also, have you noticed how many more gas stations now have 2 prices posted -- on for cash and a higher one for credit card?

  6. I think religious books actually *aren't* subject to sales tax, at least in some states. (Massachusetts being one.) But it isn't all "religious" books - I think maybe they needed to be completely in Hebrew or Aramaic?

    I've come up against that different price if you pay with a credit card thing before, but only in NY, and I agree, either leave and find another store or always pay with the card.