Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2013 January 14

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January 14[edit]

Taxes and coupons[edit]

I've had coupons for free items which have a disclaimer "taxes not included". This seems rather odd, since at least for Michigan state sales tax, they can only charge you tax on what you actually pay for an item. To do otherwise would be quite illegal. So, are there other places where you still have to pay the full tax on the MSRP, regardless of the price you actually pay ? StuRat (talk) 02:07, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

In California, you have to pay sales tax on the retail price of a cell phone, even if you get it for a reduced price. I'm not sure about other items. RudolfRed (talk) 02:57, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
(EC) As with many questions, a simple search provides a big clue. In particular [1] mentions both in the article sourced to a document from the New Jersey government [2], and in the comments that in some states, they do actually have to pay sales tax on the full price if that's what they're actually receiving, i.e. if the coupon comes from a third party like the manufacturer or in the case of a franchise I would guess the head franchisee (although I presume in some cases the coupon may come out of both pockets so only some extra/ sales tax would be due). Nil Einne (talk) 03:02, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Based on RR's comment a further search found [3]. Most of the discussion there is unsourced but some of it is, it sounds like as with all things tax in the US it can be rather complicated. In some cases the coupon has to be linked to a specific taxable item to reduce the sales tax due. Unsourced but the sales tax after manufacturers coupon bit is claimed to apply in California, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Tennessee although some people claim they were or are charged sales tax on the pre-coupon amount in other states (including someone from Michigan). Someone else only listed a few states where the sales tax on the final price after all coupons (I presume this includes manufacturer) applies. This article [4] similar suggests in Groupon and other such social deal of the day sites it can be complicated and dependent on the tax agencies interpretation of the coupon. Nil Einne (talk) 03:19, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I initially wrote 'some states (probably many I suspect including Michigan)' but removed the bracketed part because it was largely a complete guess. But it turns out I wasn't wrong at least on the second part. And from the above forum I suspect the first. It seems Michigan is indeed one of those states where the full sales tax on the amount the retailer actually receives is due. So if a manufacturer or other third party coupon is involved, where they rebate the retailer, sales tax greater then the amount you pay for the item may be due. Since this is from the Michigan state government itself [5], I'm fairly certain it isn't illegal whatever StuRat's beliefs to the contrary. On the other hand failing to pay sales tax to the state government on the amount they receive including any rebates from third parties may be illegal. (I presume they don't actually have to collect it from the customer, they could just cut in to their profits. Although if their receipts are wrong about how much tax is being paid that could be another problem). Nil Einne (talk) 03:29, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
The coupons in question are from the retailers themselves, so this explanation doesn't apply here. StuRat (talk) 04:56, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Sure but none of that was mentioned in the original question and I'm not a mind reader.Aand it seems quite clear your statement is incorrect about the illegality of taxing more then you paid for an item in Michigan is incorrect, since in the case of manufacturer/reimbursement coupons it can happen according to the Michigan government. In fact, it's entirely unclear to me whether it's illegal even when it comes to store coupons. The documents I linked to from the Michigan government mentions that companies can't enrich themselves by the collection of taxes but it suggests it may be okay for them to collect higher taxes then they're supposed to if they do actually pay the government. This doesn't really seem surprising, and so I'm not convinced a retailer would be in legal trouble, at least with the government, if they made a good faith mistake and collected more taxes then they were supposed to which they did actual pay to the government, particularly when they included a disclaimer. Based on this source [6] from the forum post I linked earlier, it seems possibly the same in Pennsylvania however I'm not sure what to make of [7] (was what they did actually illegal or was the problem that they were afraid of customer lawsuits and did the fact these were government vouchers affect the legality?). With the NJ document it does say if they don't disclose it's a manufacturer/reimbursement coupon, they can't collect the extra taxes but do have to pay the extra.
Also I would note 'retailer' here is somewhat unclear. As I mentioned it's unclear to me what happens if the coupon is from the head franchise who reimburses, at least partially, the franchisee. This would seem to depend on the definition of third party. I didn't have much luck with searches in the US (there was something on Canada) to confirm but it seems possible a head franchisee could be seen as a third party.
In any case since you specifically referred to free items, I would note in some states like Wisconsin [8], Connecticut [9] and the city of Denver [10] the retailer may be treated as the purchaser/user and may have to pay sales tax. (I suspect it's a lot more states then this, in fact I think I had another one but can't find the link.) Whether or not this is the case seems to depend on a complicated mix of stuff like whether the item is given away as a general promotion or with some other item and for he later case whether the other item itself is tax free or not. It's not clear whether or not they can collect this tax from the customer if they desire (presuming it was properly disclosed) instead of just paying it themselves. As an aside I suggested in one of my earlier posts that a retailer should be able to pay the tax rather then collecting it directly from the customer but [11] suggests that can't happen in Florida.
So just reaffirming what I said in one of my earlier posts, it is complicated, and the first link I provided as well as the forum link and a bunch of other stuff make it clear that retailers aren't always that clear on what they are supposed to do and some do charge sales tax even store coupons even if they don't have to. (Even with [12] which seems to be a simple case, the retailer did feel the need to seek clarification.) So it's perhaps not surprising retailers like general disclaimers. And as I mentioned early in this post, your claims not withstanding in most cases there's probably less risk to the retailer if they collect too much tax but do send it to whoever they collect it for then to collect to little).
P.S. I did look to see if there was any state which required taxes for the original price even for discount (not free item) coupons without any third party reimbursement but didn't specifically find any. However the law's can be complicated enough and retailers themselves sometimes unclear enough that I can't say no place in the US requires it, and given the other complexities I did write about, I didn't search that hard.
P.P.S. I can't say what the situation was like when Nyttend was growing up but it seems the current regulations in Ohio are similar to many other states and only third party/reimbursement coupons need to be taxed at the non reduced price. [13] Incidentally I used the term law a few times earlier but I did so loosely. It seems clear some of these are regulations or policy based on current interpretation of the law and whatever government involved.
Nil Einne (talk) 12:39, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
OK, thanks. StuRat (talk) 03:57, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
Growing up in Ohio, I remember something like StuRat's situation being the case; it was explained to me that the law viewed the coupon as taking effect after the sales tax was calculated. Meanwhile, for your original question, read the "Sales tax on auto purchases?" section of Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 May 19. If you buy a true clunker of a car in some states, it's slightly possible that you'd pay more in sales tax than you'd pay for the car itself. Nyttend (talk) 04:33, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Pizza delivery documentary - help me find it?[edit]

I remember seeing a preview of that documentary many years ago. It included a snippet of a hit-and-run of a delivery driver against a pedestrian that killed said pedestrian.

That was because of the "30 minutes or it's free" rule with the price of the pizza coming out of the deliverer's paycheck. The deliverer was tired of having to pay out-of-pocket because he'd be even so little as 15 seconds late.

That's why he ran a red light and ran over a pedestrian. Then a scene in court showed that a manager announced that he was going to discontinue the "30 minutes or its free" rule in order to save lives.

I'm looking for this video now. What video(s) will go over this pizza delivery hit-and-run incident that discontinued the "30 minutes or its free" deal? Please link. Thanks. --70.179.161.230 (talk) 06:10, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

The company was Domino's Pizza. Searching under that name (or the various links here) should help you out. Matt Deres (talk) 14:31, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Snopes has an account of the issue (including the fact that Domino's never accepted that their policy was the cause of the accidents). I don't think it mentions a video, but one of the links in it might. --ColinFine (talk) 18:56, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Pop Ups[edit]

I never used to have problems with pop ups before. But since last week, everytime I open Google Chrome, a bazillion popups keep opening up without my knowledge and running in multiple independent windows which I have to close manually every single time. Can anyone tell why this is happening and what I can do to fix it? 117.227.196.224 (talk) 09:08, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

You might get a better answer at the Computing Reference Desk. That said, I don't use Chrome but with Firefox, these things sometimes get started with a plugin that you unknowingly installed. I believe Chrome has plugins or extensions as well. So you might want to check that first and disable anything that looks out of the ordinary. Dismas|(talk) 09:16, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

I checked the extensions and found nothing that's not supposed to be there. In addition, everytime I fire up Chrome, two tabs are opened simultaneously, one for my homepage, and the other that links to some site called websearch.just-browse.info 117.227.161.189 (talk) 09:56, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Try scanning for malware/virus. If you have antivirus already, run a scan. If you don't have one and using Windows 7 you can use the build in Microsoft Security Essentials (located in your taskbar, lower right corner). Or you could use Trend Micro's HouseCall. Royor (talk) 10:16, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
A quick google search for "websearch.just-browse.info" confirm it's a web browser hijacker. Royor (talk) 10:53, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Can you further expound your bachelors thesis for your master's degree[edit]

I have recently completed my BA thesis but I think that it can work well with further explanations that would be related to the graduate program I intend to go to. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Joshua Atienza (talkcontribs) 13:52, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

It all depends on the graduate school you attend. I didn't exactly have a BA thesis, but I had something close to it that I used as my "writing sample" that was part of my application to graduate school; I've not used it since. Nyttend (talk) 14:03, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The person you need to ask is somebody at your intended graduate program. Probably any breathing person in the graduate program you intend to go to (or indeed any potential graduate program you may go to, if you are applying to several) would have a more relevant answer than any person that would ever respond here. Of the thousands upon thousands of graduate schools in the world, and of the tens of thousands of departments within those schools, there's no way that anyone here would know what the particular policies of any one of them are. --Jayron32 14:04, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Per Jayron32. Your advisor or supervisor will be available for the discussion of appropriate MA projects. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:54, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, and if you want to enjoy your studies and have some challenge, you will be looking for a topic that naturally follows from and builds on your BA studies, or one that is a completely new departure. Doing the same topic again might be superficially attractive, as a soft option, but it could also get very boring. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:25, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Food safety[edit]

I put a whole chicken in my crock pot along with 1/2 cup catchup, 1/2 cup coffee, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce and pepper. I turned it on high for about 1 hour. Then, I turned it off by mistake (meant to turn it to low). It was off for about 5-6 hours. I then turned it back on and cooked until done. Is the chicken safe to eat? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.68.93.69 (talk) 18:30, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Not wishing to give medical advice here, but you haven't told us some important information. Was the chicken frozen to start with? If so, was it completely defrosted and the cavity free of ice before you started cooking it? Was the chicken at room temperature before you turned the pot on? --TammyMoet (talk) 18:43, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Tammy, this isn't a medical advice question; the consumption of any food has an effect on the body that may be relevant to some medical condition, but the question was not posed in the context of any condition, but simply as a general food safety question. Doctors have no skills in food preparation, and people who attend a Safe Food Handling course are not being given medical advice. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 23:48, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I moved your response; I hope you won't mind.Dncsky (talk) 03:15, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
No, I don't mind too much, but (a) don't make a habit of it; and (b) you left the other part of my post stranded without an owner. I've signed it again. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 03:34, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Actually it is medical advice: if we say "yes it's safe to eat" and the OP gets food poisoning because the chicken was not cooked properly, not reaching the optimum temperature to kill off any bugs, who gets sued? Me or you? --TammyMoet (talk) 11:26, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Didn't take long for the medical advice police to show up, did it? It's not medical advice, it's food safety advice. --Viennese Waltz 11:35, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. Editing Wikipedia can be disastrous for your mental health (and physical health, if you spend all day every day at it and never get any exercise). But encouraging people to get involved in the project, or indeed to steer clear of it all costs, is, strangely, never considered to be medical advice. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 13:50, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Newspapers and cookbooks regularly discuss proper food handling. It is an appropriate subject for laymen to discuss Marteau (talk) 18:02, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
What's with the coffee and the sugar? Where did this recipe come from? It doesn't sound particularly "safe" from a taste perspective. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 18:55, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, even as a coffee lover, I am a bit perplexed. Anyway, to the OP, I'd eat it, assuming everything in the pot has come to 180F for an hour. SemanticMantis (talk) 20:29, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
  • If the pot was lidded and the contents were boiled and not uncovered after allowed to cool the contents should have remained sterile until the lid was removed. You can slow-cook and reheat soup and leave it on the stove for several days if you are careful to keep the lid on it. The recipe sounds Jamaican. μηδείς (talk) 20:51, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll try anything once, man, but my blood glucose level may never recover after all that sugar. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 03:34, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
(This sounds like a fairly common ingredient list for Barbecue sauces - eg [14], [15]). Anyway - you should be OK with cooking the chicken, so long as the internal temperature gets high enough (foodsafety.gov [16] says 165 degF (74 degC). However, according to Slow cooker, that might not be the case with a crock-pot set on "LOW", so set it on "HIGH" and if possible, use a meat thermometer to be sure. SteveBaker (talk) 15:57, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
  • The OP's question seems to be not whether the meat was undercooked, but whether letting it sit at a lower temperature than cooking temperature for many hours was detrimental. Assuming the meat was indeed properly cooked during the first hour, and not uncovered and let to sit for hours before reheating again to cooking temperature, it should have remained quite sterile during that time. The real problem would be if, say, the pot had never been brought to a sterilizing temperature, or if it had been opened and sampled with a contaminated spoon and was then left to sit for hours at a non-sterilizing temperature and not heated again to a sterilizing temperature once the mistake had been noticed. In most cases, unless you or your kitchen are contaminated with a bacterial or viral pathogen, or you let the food sit for days with a fungus or a bacteria, and you don't reheat properly, you have nothing to fear.
A lot of people have a taboo or unclean attitude towards food. If it has ever cooled down, or ever been exposed to air, touched by a gentile, looked at by a pig, or ever let to sit more than two or three days in the fridge, it has gone bad regardless of evidence or actual exposure to pathogens. It is very hard to reassure people according to the germ theory of disease when they believe, in effect, in spontaneous generation or moral contamination. Basically, wash your hands, don't cough on or let your sputum get in the food, don't double dip, and, according to the above sources, cook to the right temperature the first time, and reheat properly the second time. μηδείς (talk) 04:24, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
      • There is absolutely no way a chicken could be fully cooked after one hour in a crock pot. To reach even 137F should take five to six hours. One hour - it might reach the perfect internal temperature for bacterial growth, but I doubt it would even get that hot. --NellieBlyMobile (talk) 16:05, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
(Double-dipping is also OK: the Mythbusters busted that one.) SteveBaker (talk) 14:10, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Seinfeld Was Right: Don't Double-Dip. I'll take Seinfeld's wisdom over a reality show any day. "Not shot, dog bite!" μηδείς (talk) 18:35, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

Can someone explain the BBC article on the "'Simpler' flat-rate state pension"[edit]

The BBC article on the 'Simpler' flat-rate state pensionsays:

However, by 2060, more than half would be worse off than if the current system continued, because they could not build up a state second pension.
...
Anyone who qualifies for the state pension before April 2017 will continue to receive their entitlement under the current system.

Does that mean that anyone who has voluntarily paid the "contracted in" National insurance contributions but who reaches retirement age after 2017 will just lose the money they contributed? -- Q Chris (talk) 18:43, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

I'm just listening to someone trying to explain this on the BBC News channel. It seems to be very complicated, but from what he says there would appear to be transitional arrangements and you would get a higher pension than the flat rate. -- Arwel Parry (talk) 21:44, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that seems to be the correct interpretation (current entitlement not being lost). As I understand it, there will be one-off rebasing of state pension entitlement to include state second pension (S2P), state earnings related pension (SERP) and graduated pension (Graduated Retirement Benefit), and if the total comes to less than the flat-rate pension then the £144 (or £155 by then) will be awarded. No doubt the details will be published soon. Very few people retiring in 2060 will have paid any state second-pension contributions, and those that have will not have many years to their credit. Dbfirs 00:13, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I look forward to hearing the details. The idea of adding up the accrued entitlements and raising it to the minimum if less sounds surprisingly fair. While it is possible that someone who made a small amount of contracted in payments would not be any better off than someone who didn't make them they at least have the consolation that they they are better off than they would have been without the change. -- Q Chris (talk) 13:41, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Slight correction - the "contracted-in payments" aren't really voluntary. They are just the standard national insurance rates. There is then a rebate if you are a member of a contracted-out pension scheme. You can't just choose to pay the lower rates. --Tango (talk) 12:42, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
I was self-employed for a time and had a choice of whether I took a contracted in or contracted out scheme. A few employers also had a choice of different schemes though I think this is rare now. -- Q Chris (talk) 08:34, 18 January 2013 (UTC)