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Dec 28, 2011 07:24 PM

Your Favorite Bakery that Doesn't Charge Tax


Sorry, pet peeve of mine, bakeries that charge tax. There is no tax on take-out bakery. I used to be confused, then at Porto's i noticed that they charged me tax on hot food (empanada) and no tax on my pastries. I inquired and they told me there is no tax on bakery items in california. So, what gives? Why are some bakeries charging tax, and what do they do with the money? And please let me know if you go to a bakery that DOESN'T charge tax, I want to patronize them!

  1. Beverlywood Bakery on Pico... 99% certain they don't charge tax...

    The CA Tax Exemption ( ):

    FOOD PRODUCTS—Sales of food for human consumption are generally exempt from tax unless sold in a heated condition (except hot bakery items or hot beverages, such as coffee, sold for a separate price), served as meals, consumed at or on the seller’s facilities, ordinarily sold for consumption on or near the seller’s parking facility, or sold for consumption where there is an admission charge.
    REVENUE: $4,990.1 million SECTION: 6359

    18 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      Milo and Olive is a great bakery. Their whole wheat potato bread is incredible as are their pastries.
      No tax

      1. re: maudies5

        Weird, the first (and only time) I went there, they charged me tax. (this was around three weeks ago)

        1. re: Pumpkin_Head

          I know I didm't pay tax on that loaf of bread I bought the other day at Milo and Olive. I only bought 1 item that day. The bread was $8.50 and I was charged exactly that amount.

          1. re: maudies5

            Well, I was on the receiving end of some very bad customer service (both people behind the counter skipped over me in line to those behind me) and after waiting for a few minutes they copped an attitude when they asked me "if I was waiting for something" and while ringing up my meager (one pain au chocolat) purchase. Totally soured me on going back. Don't get me started on the acoustics of the place either...

            1. re: Pumpkin_Head

              They may have assumed you were waiting to be seated. In front of the bakery counter is where folks line up to be seated and Milo and Olive is a very very busy place. BTW, I have always been treated very courteously. In fact, I think this restaurant has some of the nicest customer service people anywhere.

              1. re: maudies5

                I have go agree about their customer service being top notch. I was outside one cold morning before they opened and they actually unlocked the doors and served me when they saw me waiting. Now that's customer service that I simply haven't had anyplace else in L.A.

                They also had the best "gluten free" sweet treat I've ever had. Some sort of little banana muffin that was so good you had no idea it was gluten free.

                1. re: Servorg

                  I've been a couple times now and the folks there have been very cordial with me as well. I think Pumpkin_Head was accidentally juxtaposed in the wash cycle between ordering pastries/coffee and waiting for a seat.

                  I think if a bakery is charging sales tax on everything, they're not using any discretion (which they should) - I just hope they are passing on all of the taxes to the govt. If the tax rules relating to food are still the same as they've been for decades now, only food heated and served heated by an establishment is taxed. I was told that the rationale behind taxing food that has been heated is because of the use of energy in offering heated food - something about the energy being taxed so this in turn is passed on to the consumer. Things like salads have always been a gray area. I'm guessing many places just tax everything that must be prepared in the kitchen after being ordered by a customer. A supermarket example would be chicken. A raw unprepared chicken is not taxable. A chicken that has been roasted on their rotisserie and kept/offered hot is taxable. Baked goods offered on shelves and counters are not taxed. A croissant sandwich prepared by the service counter is taxable. Baked goods that are offered on counters, etc. should be a nontaxable item.

                  Angel Maid, Grand Casino, Chantilly, JJ Bakery, Jamaica's Cakes and 3 Square did not charge tax on my goods this week (as far as I recall).

            2. re: maudies5

              $8.50 for a loaf of whole wheat potato bread? Wow.

              1. re: Veggo

                Tried them yesterday, $2.50 for a donut and $3.50 for a scone, at those prices they'd better be damn good, and they were, well, damn good. I'd rate it pricey and ALMOST worth it.

                1. re: HaroldandMaude

                  Which bakery is this in reference too Harold and Maude???


                  1. re: kevin

                    Apologies for answering a question with a question: Kevin, which post does HaroldandMaude's post refer to?

        2. re: Emme

          Thanks! I couldn't find that law/section anywhere! it's in my purse now to show at the checkout counter!

          1. re: HaroldandMaude

            No problem. As you can see, hot items are not exempt. I remember being ecstatic when I started my business, and found out I didn't have to worry about sales tax. When I went down to the department that handles the sales tax licensing, the woman said, "I have good news and bad news; the good news is you don't need to worry about sales tax; the bad news is you drove all the way down here."

            1. re: HaroldandMaude

              A hot empanada is not a bakery item, which is why you were charged tax on it. The bakery is not out to screw you, they're trying to stay above the law so that when the Board of Equalization auditors come knocking, they can prove they're charging tax correctly. Porto's also charges tax on hot prepared foods (like the beef plate).

              As for what they do with the money, they remit it it to the state, just like any other business that has to charge sales tax. If you think it's stupid, write your legiscritters up in Suckramento. They're the ones to blame, not the bakery.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                "write your legiscritters up in Suckramento"


                But seriously on another note, my favorite bakery, when I get a chocolate croissant to go at Tartine Bakery, they charge tax on it, why??? and i don't have them heat it up again, i like my croissants cold, unless it's already fresh out of the oven. so there should not be any heating tax there.

                1. re: kevin

                  Who knows? Call them and ask. Maybe the rules are different in San Francisco—wouldn't shock me in the slightest.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    my bad, das, a slip of my mind.

                    i meant Tarte Tatin bakery in Beverly Hills, not to be confused with Tartine Bakery on Guerrero in the Mission district in SF.

                    I would never have known my mistake if not for your post in response. My bad.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Folks, we allowed this conversation about L.A. bakeries even though the premise was borderline off topic from the start. Now that it's gone completely off topic, we're closing the thread.

                  We're the right place to discuss which bakeries make delicious products. Chowhound is not the place to discuss tax laws and accounting practices. If you are interested in learning how bakeries levy taxes on the items they sell, enough tips have been shared for you to learn those legal practices on sites better equipped to deal with those questions.

            2. The Diamond Bakery on Fairfax, north of Beverly, is a great neighborhood bakery with general and Jewish breads. No tax, and employees know many of the regular customers, sometimes suggesting breaks and cakes. In addition to typical rye breads, challahs, and amazing pastries, in recent years they have added burekas, a Turkish style savory pastry popular on the Med Rim. They also have parking in an adjacent lot.

              1. We get all our breads at Rockenwagner Bakery. Their ciabatta is my favorite. Also like the sourdough, the white and the challah.

                They don't charge tax. Bought a ciabatta yesterday. Five bucks even.

                If it matters, LAWeekly just named it top bakery in LA.

                7 Replies
                1. re: PaulF

                  I like Rockenwagner/3 Square. I go pretty often. They have some things that I do enjoy. But number one? I guess it depends on what one considers to be the criteria. Who makes the best bacon cheese pretzel twist? Rock's number one - I don't think anyone else does it. Who makes the best scones? Lots of places do scones. In my opinion, Gjelina To Go. I'm guessing subjectivity weighed into this list...

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    I don't put much stock in the #1 rating. But I feel that just being included on the list is some general indication of quality.

                    The funny thing about buying bakery bread is this: For about the same price as I could be a factory made, "vitamin enriched" grocery store bread for my son's school lunches, I can buy a freshly baked loaf at a bakery like Rockenwagner. I see no reason other than simple convenience to ever buy a bread in the grocery store.

                    1. re: PaulF

                      I too am glad they got a mention - I just don't personally consider them to be the best - but again, I do really like them. I've had their breads as well and do agree that they are very serviceable. The problem I usually had with their breads is that the availability was very inconsistent, so I've just given up and moved on. Would you say that they carry a decent stock of breads now? Thanks...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I would say it's a tiny bit hit or miss, but not too bad.

                        There are times when they don't have my first choice, not often but sometimes. If that happens, I get my second choice. We all eat the breads, but the main thing is I need a bread in the house for a 10th grader's school lunch. He's pretty flexible so if they don't have ciabatta I just get a white or sourdough and we're good. But, yes, it's possible if you only are interested in getting a white bread they might be out. But, really, I usually see a full selection.

                        For what it's worth, we go in on Sunday am to buy bread (preparing for the school week).

                        I also like the place because everyone who works their is nice and helpful. It's a good vibe. One time we even bought a bread that got moldy after only a couple of days and they replaced it with a new loaf and threw in an extra one.

                        1. re: PaulF

                          Which place Paul F has cool vibe and healthful, cool, people working there???


                          1. re: kevin

                            Rockenwagner Bakery on Washington.

                            I don't know if they are healthful, but they are helpful.

                            1. re: PaulF

                              oh, my bad, i mis-spelled on my race to the presses.

                              i do like rockenwagner's, i usually go to the one in SM.

                              And their japlaneno-cheese rolls are quite exceptional.

                2. I work in the food industry (not a restaurant). The way it works is that grocery items in the state of CA are not taxable. Prepared foods are. So a loaf of bread is non-taxable, but a sandwich made with that bread would be taxable. Foods that are heated by the restaurant are taxable as they are considered prepared.