While grabbing a quick coffee or a few Chocolate Long Johns at Dunkin' Donuts is by no means expensive, there's a chance you're paying more than you should for certain items at some New York and New Jersey locations, according to lawsuits recently filed against the company.
As first reported by the New York Post, three people from NYC and two people from New Jersey have accused Dunkin' Donuts of pocketing sales taxes it erroneously charged on items that are considered nontaxable under local laws.
For example, a Dunkin' location near Penn Station in Manhattan allegedly charged a customer sales tax on pre-packaged coffee beans, even though state tax regulations say, "[f]ood sold that may be eaten at an eating area (i.e., an area with tables and seating) in the store or just outside the store is taxable," which presumably shouldn't apply to coffee you'd make at home (we reached out to New York's Department of Taxation and Finance to see if coffee beans are indeed exempt).
Carl Mayer, the attorney who filed the lawsuits and represents the five customers, claims a dozen Dunkin' locations allegedly charged customers a few extra cents in taxes 70% of the time, and that it quickly adds up -- to the tune of $10 million in New York and $4 million in New Jersey over the course of three years, according to the report. It's worth emphasizing, however, that the accusations against the donut purveyor originate from lawsuits and not an investigation carried out by any governmental consumer protection agency, as seen in the case of the recent Whole Foods overpricing scandal.
A Dunkin' spokesperson responded to our questions about the lawsuits with the following statement:
"Dunkin' Donuts has over 1,000 restaurants in New Jersey and New York that are owned and operated by individual franchisees, who are expected to comply with all applicable state and federal laws including those relating to taxation. We are in the process of reaching out to the franchisees identified in the complaint in order to determine whether these taxes were charged to customers."
At least one thing is clear: taxes suck.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.