Doing your taxes can be confusing, and unfortunately, ignorance isn’t an excuse when it comes to following the law. For businesses, tax codes can be even more elaborate, but again, businesses are required to follow these rules— something some Dunkin’ Donuts franchises may be about to learn the hard way.
According to the NY Post, a lawsuit filed yesterday in New Jersey alleges that a dozen different Dunkin’ Donuts stores in New York and New Jersey overcharged customers as much as 70 percent of the time on certain items over the past three years by charging sales tax on non-taxable sales. The lawyer representing the five plaintiffs claims that the doughnut shops made about $14 million extra off New York and New Jersey customers with the excess tax charges.
Granted, knowing which items are taxable and which aren’t under state law can be confusing. For instance, most items sold by Dunkin’ Donuts are taxable, but in New York and New Jersey, bottled water and pre-packaged coffee are not. Though it’s possible store owners weren’t aware of the discrepancy, if they were aware, charging tax on these items is certainly devious as it’s the kind of thing many customers wouldn’t know about or even notice.
The suit alleges the latter, claiming that these stores knew what they were doing. “Despite being aware of the illegality of their actions, Dunkin' Donuts continues to dunk their customers, leaving them with a sour taste in their mouth when they buy their sweets,” the suit says according to NJ.com. Personally, if I were a judge, I’d toss the whole thing after having to read that ridiculous sentence, but then again there’s a reason no one has chosen me to enforce the law.
For their part, Dunkin’ Donuts says they’re investigating the stores in question. “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,” the brand said.
Let this whole situation be a lesson: Know your tax codes. Actually, I’d probably gladly pay an extra 15 cents on a bottle of water to not have to read those things. But that isn’t the point, people!