New York, New York – Cut or uncut bagels, that is the question. An obscure New York sales tax regulation mandates that the sale of whole bagels isn’t subject to sales tax, but the tax applies to sliced or prepared bagels with cream cheese or other toppings. The state’s Department of Taxation and Finance also reminds business owners and consumers alike that “if the bagel is eaten in the store, even if it’s never been touched by a knife, it’s also taxed.
For Conrad Smith, a homeless New Yorker who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, this regulation has opened up a lucrative opportunity for him to earn an average of $250 a day. Smith has set up a makeshift “shop” just outside a popular bagel store on 42nd Street. He invested $50 dollars of his hard-earned cash to purchase a portable table and chair combo from IKEA, and a stainless bread knife from Crate & Barrel.
Seven days a week, Smith sets up shop and charges fifty cents for every bagel he cuts with his knife and another fifty cents for the use of his portable table and chair. Customers are glad to patronize Smith’s business, saying that they’d rather help a veteran than pay extra in sales tax to add to the state’s already fat coffers.
Although New York, like San Francisco, has a “sit and lie” ordinance, prohibiting homeless and other people from sitting on sidewalks, setting up a table and chair along the sidewalk does not violate the ordinance.
Smith told The Adobo Chronicles that he is saving up his earnings so that one day, he can establish his own bagel shop, and give another homeless veteran the opportunity to make a living cutting whole bagels.