Over the past several months on three different occasions I have tried to persuade the manager of Roberts Market in Woodside that "to go" coffee should not be subject to sales tax under the 80-80 rule provided in Sale and Use Tax Regulation 1603.
As most people are aware, hot "to go" items are normally taxable, but a provision under section (c)(1)(a) explicitly provides an exception for hot beverages specifically mentioning hot coffee. In fact it even allows "hot bakery goods" to go to be excluded from sales tax.
I have tried to persuade the manager to walk across the street to the Woodside Bakery or go to any Starbucks or Peets in California and note that they do not charge sales tax. However, he says that may be so, but these guys must simply be embedding the tax into their price. I pointed out that would be rather silly of them to do since it would put them at a competitive disadvantage with respect to price, but he just came full circle and said that is why they would not do so.
I tried to encourage him to spend 30 seconds typing "coffee sales tax california" into google, but he made it abundantly clear that my suggestion was not helpful.
I realize that it's quixotic for me to continue with this and I suppose that I should be grateful that by now they must have helped the state with it budget problems in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars of extra tax. Even so I admit to a bit of frustration.
Well, thanks for listening. At least it's off my chest.