Philadelphia Cream Cheese exploits tax loophole with new bagel

Originally published at: Philadelphia Cream Cheese exploits tax loophole with new bagel | Boing Boing


no bagel that comes pre-stuffed with cream cheese is worth a ride from anywhere.


It’s weird to me that NY has specific food related taxes. For more context:


I mean, that’s what’s actually happening here. It isn’t that there’s a special tax for prepared foods, it’s that groceries are exempt from the regular sales tax in NY (not just NYC), but prepared foods are not exempt. So a packaged food like a selection of deli meats and subway rolls wouldn’t be subject to tax, but a sandwich prepared by that deli would be. It is a great aid for lower income families.

Now there are special taxes in NYC, but the ones I’m aware of relate to income, liquor sales and cars. Yonkers, too for some reason.


Exactly what @cannibalpeas said.

Our neighborhood bagel place was an old-school bakery that ONLY sold unsliced bagels and bialys so they wouldn’t have to deal with sales tax. People unfamiliar with the place used to get really pissed off when they’d go in and ask for a bagel with cream cheese and the Lurch-like guy behind the counter would hand them an unsliced bagel and a small tub of cream cheese and a plastic knife.

New owners from the restaurant world took over several years ago, and had to customize their restaurant point-of-sale software to enable the sales tax exemption for unsliced bagels and bialys.

I also find it amusing that in this review of the “tax free bagel” the guy gets it toasted, which means it’s now prepared and the store was supposed to charge sales tax!


That doesn’t sound like a bad on the go snack/breakfast.


I know that the photo is mostly marketing hype, but the cream cheese to bagel ratio is… concerning.


See, that’s just wrong. You don’t toast cream cheese, but combining them means you’re forced to if you want a toasted bagel. You also can’t control how much cream cheese you want (unless you squeeze some out like toothpaste I suppose.)

I would assume any bagel from a big corporation you get in the supermarket refrigerated aisle would be a garbage bagel anyway.

Thanks, I’ll pay the tax and get a bagel that’s gives me all the enjoyment a bagel should.


New York bagels are nothing without Philly.


Yes, and!
Philadelphia cream cheese is def not

It’s the epitome of cream cheese! ‘Round here, “Lucerne” is the generic stuff.


This is actually an issue. Lots of places don’t have their POS properly configured and end up charging tax on non-tax items, especially when they’re grouped in the same sale.

It’s been like 20 years, so I’m probably not going to get this entirely right, but back when I lived in KC, there was a special tax on liquor, but not food (I think?). Our POS wasn’t configured correctly, so any time someone began a check at the bar, it added tax to everything on the ticket. I was only made aware of it by an annoyed, but eagle-eyed customer.


I never pay the tax. Just buy the bagel unsliced, bring it home, and put the correct amount of cream cheese on it. Temptee tastes better than Philadelphia anyway.


The new owners of our bagel shop HAD to do it or they would have had a riot. People in my neighborhood do NOT pay tax on bagels!


yeah, but on the sliced halves, not like some kind of pizza hut monstrosity.


Oh thank goodness - the taxes on bagels were killing my family!


Maybe it’s a coastal thing? Here in LA, Philadelphia is def the ‘generic’

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Ooh, thanks for the context! West coast born and raised here, so I’ve never actually seen this tax in action - maybe I should have added a disclaimer in the article :thinking:

I don’t think so, but maybe it’s a terminology misunderstanding? What do you understand “generic” to mean?
What you’re saying is like saying Kleenex is the generic form of tissues on the west coast. They are, by definition, not generic, since they have a brand name.
The example I gave is a store brand, Lucerne. It gets slapped on a bunch of stuff.


I think people are using ‘generic’ here to mean of generic level quality, not literally a generic brand.

The sales tax applying to prepared food but not groceries is a thing in many states. Similarly, SNAP (food stamps) will generally pay for groceries but not prepared foods. When I lived in Kansas City, there was a takeout pizza place, Papa Murphy’s, that accepted SNAP because they didn’t cook the pizza, thus throwing it in the grocery category. You just took it home and threw it in your own oven to cook it.


Oh, makes sense.
I really enjoyed my Boston cream bagel the other day. And by bagel, I don’t literally mean bagel, I mean doughnut. But it’s called a pie.
Because, you know, words have no meaning anymore.
So confusing.