Is It Illegal If Someone Pays You When You Said No?

Business By margaretb Updated 1 May 2009 , 10:10pm by mkolmar

margaretb Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 8:36am
post #1 of 50

I have made a couple cakes for a neighbour of mine. She'll ask how much she owes me and I'll say nothing (hobbyist, not legal to sell from home kitchen). I did one today that she thought was pretty cool, so she said she HAD to pay me. And I said no. When I was leaving, she said she would pay, and I said no, besides, it's illegal to sell from an unlicensed kitchen, plus if you don't pay me and someone gets food poisoning, you can't sue me (kind of jokey). And what I didn't say but thought was that if I am going to set a price for a cake, it is going to be VERY expensive. Anyway, as we were leaving, she gave $20 to my son to pay for the cake. I told him to give it back, but she wouldn't take it. So I finally said okay, we'll put it in the wii jar (we are saving up to buy a wii as a life lesson for the kids). So what's the right thing to do in that situation? It was getting awkward with the yes/no/yes/no, and quite frankly, even though if I set a price it would have been a LOT more, it is actually nice to get back something toward the cost of ingredients. I'm actually going to be making grad cakes for them and another neighbour in a couple months, which is sort of voluntary/sort of requested (they say, gee, I should get you to make the grad cake, and I jump in with, sure, when do you need it), and I think this will come up again.

49 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 10:15am
post #2 of 50

I've been in the same position that you're in. I've started to accept money for the supplies because the cost of groceries is outrageous. I also don't want to be known as the person to ask for a cake when you don't have any money. It's easier for me to say, "Yes, but you've got to buy the supplies, they will run about x amount."

I don't know where you live, but here the "crime" of selling baked goods from home illegally is a class C misdemeanor, just like a traffic ticket. So yeah, it's trouble, but it's not go-to-jail trouble. And I think someone can sue you whether you charge them or not...could be wrong there though.

clovely Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 11:12am
post #3 of 50

I've started tracking closely what I spend and letting people reimburse me. Frankly, this was getting to be a VERY expensive hobby and I was feeling used at times. We're in a rotten position - this is the only down side I've ever found to living in Florida!! I've talked to attorneys who've actually pondered the law as it's written here and suggested it might be OK for me to charge as long as it's friends and family word of mout (and I'm not advertising a business). A lawyer friend suggested I call the Health Department and ask some pointed questions. I've not done that yet.

I've thought about giving people a list and telling them to bring me the materials but I'm too much of a control freak for that. Even beyond the ingredient costs, I have people try to give me more "for my time". I have jokingly told me they can just buy me a present because they love me instead.

It stinks because we're not trying to be slick or break the law - if anything, we're bending over backwards trying NOT to break the law. What are you supposed to do when your hobby is (practically) illegal?

cakedoll Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:18pm
post #4 of 50

I'm in the same boat you are. I got back into cakes last October (here in Florida) after a 15 year hiatus and have had to relearn a lot of stuff. Started out just for family and friends, as practice, and I was doing it as gifts and such.

Now it's turning into friends of friends and I do charge for ingredients. I give them a list of items (brand names included), and they either pick the stuff up or I do. I am looking for kitchen rental space and I have turned down requests because I don't feel comfortable doing them. I turned down a wedding cake about a month ago. Not going that route not being legal.

Like you, I have talked to my attorney about it (just last week, in fact)and haven't gotten too many clear answers. He said he did not believe the way I am doing it constitutes anything illegal but he would get back to me. I'm not advertising, not charging for time and labor so there has really been no profit involved; it has all been word of mouth.

I am all for being legal. I did art shows for 10 years, I was totally legal; had my clothing business, totally legal; and I am checking into how many hoops I have to jump through to be legal now.

I checked Craigslist in our area and searched cake decorating. It's quite amazing how many home bakers out there are advertising and have their own website. They are a lot braver than I am.

oneyracing Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:34pm
post #5 of 50

this is a very expensive hobby as my husband has found out...i only do cakes for friends and family as a birthday gift but man does it cost us...it would be cheaper and alot easier to just go buy a present but now they seem to expect a cake..but i guess it is mostly my fault cause i cant say no...they just dont have any idea the time and money that it takes to make one...

Deb_ Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:39pm
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedoll


I checked Craigslist in our area and searched cake decorating. It's quite amazing how many home bakers out there are advertising and have their own website. They are a lot braver than I am.




I'm not so sure *brave* is the correct word to describe them............*stupid* maybe?

I don't get it........I've only been on *craigslist* site one time (I know, I'm a little technically challenged) but if someone is doing something *illegally* why advertise it on the net? I mean do people advertise *selling illegal drugs* on craigslist? IDK.....maybe they do icon_confused.gificon_rolleyes.gif


To the OP ........don't you just love money fights "take it, no I can't, yes you can, take it........noooooooooo I really can't! icon_lol.gif Technically she gave it to your son! icon_biggrin.gif

janelwaters Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:42pm
post #7 of 50

clovely - where in florida are you?? I think everyone in florida is in the same boat - totally sux! I love doing this, but its getting really difficult, financially, to continue to give cakes away.

Texas_Rose Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:47pm
post #8 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly


I don't get it........I've only been on *craigslist* site one time (I know, I'm a little technically challenged) but if someone is doing something *illegally* why advertise it on the net? I mean do people advertise *selling illegal drugs* on craigslist? IDK.....maybe they do icon_confused.gificon_rolleyes.gif




Actually, they do icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif It's usually not written out where the average person will understand it, it's more of a code. Prostitutes advertise on craigslist too. I even saw a woman trying to give her children away once (I had babysat for her before so I called cps and told them about her ad).

About the cakes on Craigslist, I always figure that if they're willing to take the risk, let them. I can't buy ingredients for the prices some of them charge anyhow.

Vylette Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:47pm
post #9 of 50

Consider it a donation to help you continue in your obsession? icon_lol.gif

dmhart Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:48pm
post #10 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly




To the OP ........don't you just love money fights "take it, no I can't, yes you can, take it........noooooooooo I really can't! icon_lol.gif Technically she gave it to your son! icon_biggrin.gif




I agree........it was given to your son. icon_wink.gif......I look at it as a gift to him........

indydebi Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:51pm
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Quote:

Is it illegal if someone pays you when you said no?



i would say if it's illegal to sell cakes in your state, then the answer to this question would be "yes".

Otherwise, picture this scenario: Client comes to pick up a cake, says "how much?" Baker says "oh I'm not allowed to sell cakes" and sticks her hand out. Client says, "Oh I insist on paying you" and puts money in the outstretched hand. Baker says, "Oh no, I'm not charging you" as she folds the money into her pocket.

I don't think the defense of "I TOLD her not to pay me!" or telling the judge "She just GAVE me the money!" just wouldn't hold up.

cats242 Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 12:58pm
post #12 of 50

I know how you feel. I only do cakes as gifts for friends...but would love to be able to do them legally. I have lots of hubby's coworkers always asking for cake. It just gets soooo expensive to just give them away!

Oh...I"m in FL too!!!

Deb_ Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:02pm
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly


I don't get it........I've only been on *craigslist* site one time (I know, I'm a little technically challenged) but if someone is doing something *illegally* why advertise it on the net? I mean do people advertise *selling illegal drugs* on craigslist? IDK.....maybe they do icon_confused.gificon_rolleyes.gif



Actually, they do icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif It's usually not written out where the average person will understand it, it's more of a code. Prostitutes advertise on craigslist too. I even saw a woman trying to give her children away once (I had babysat for her before so I called cps and told them about her ad).

About the cakes on Craigslist, I always figure that if they're willing to take the risk, let them. I can't buy ingredients for the prices some of them charge anyhow.




WOW icon_eek.gif I really need to get out more icon_lol.gif Here in MA just last week they arrested a 20 something yr old pre med student.....*craigslist murderer*, he allegedly met this woman on craigslist advertising massages or something, yup.....she ended up dead in a Boston hotel. icon_rolleyes.gif

Maybe it's just me but Craigslist would be the last place I'd look for a cake.

butternut Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:10pm
post #14 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Quote:

Is it illegal if someone pays you when you said no?


i would say if it's illegal to sell cakes in your state, then the answer to this question would be "yes".

Otherwise, picture this scenario: Client comes to pick up a cake, says "how much?" Baker says "oh I'm not allowed to sell cakes" and sticks her hand out. Client says, "Oh I insist on paying you" and puts money in the outstretched hand. Baker says, "Oh no, I'm not charging you" as she folds the money into her pocket.

I don't think the defense of "I TOLD her not to pay me!" or telling the judge "She just GAVE me the money!" just wouldn't hold up.



Gotta agree with indydebi

GayeG Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:10pm
post #15 of 50

Yep - Fl here too .. and "guilty as charged!" I agree with all ya'll .. its getting way to expensive to just give them away! Luckily my friends and family know Im a poor ole soul and always buys the ingredients - which is I couldnt do it w/out that .. but then theres all the other stuff that goes along with it .. boards, labor etc that I dont get reimbursed for so ....
my solution was to get legal thru our Church ... its not final yet BUT will be a Godsend when it does! Then I wont feel near as bad when someone "pushes" those (extra) $$ in my hand!!
I think us Fl girlz need to find out just HOW to get it on the books and have the laws changed!!! hmmmmmmmm

Just my $.02 =)

forthwife Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:13pm
post #16 of 50

Don't know about your specific situation regarding the $20 passed to your son, however in Florida it is in NO WAY illegal to be reimbursed for your ingredients (your time is your donation). I have called on this and it's perfectly ok (I called the state office that handles this I believe it's the agricultural department, it was several months ago). As a side note, if your baked items are for a non-profit (school, church etc) you can deduct the ingredients from your federal taxes.

cricket0616 Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:16pm
post #17 of 50

I actually called the HD where I live and to inquire about putting a second kitchen in my home. Due to the laws in my state, it has to be a commercial kitchen and it would not work. The employee of the HD told me that if I am making cakes for friends and family and accepting reimbursement for my cost, they would not be coming after me. As long as I was not running a business and advertising it, they do not have a problem with it.

I started baking for my family and a friend ask me to make a cake and now it has become the norm. I agree that I did not mind in the beginning giving it as the "birthday present", but after a while it adds up.

cakedoll Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 1:52pm
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by butternut

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Quote:

Is it illegal if someone pays you when you said no?


i would say if it's illegal to sell cakes in your state, then the answer to this question would be "yes".

Otherwise, picture this scenario: Client comes to pick up a cake, says "how much?" Baker says "oh I'm not allowed to sell cakes" and sticks her hand out. Client says, "Oh I insist on paying you" and puts money in the outstretched hand. Baker says, "Oh no, I'm not charging you" as she folds the money into her pocket.

I don't think the defense of "I TOLD her not to pay me!" or telling the judge "She just GAVE me the money!" just wouldn't hold up.


Gotta agree with indydebi




I do too and I'm not even legal...lol.

Here's a different case scenario which happened to me this last weekend. Made a cake for a lady: friend of a friend. She bought the ingredients. All is fine and good. She's happy as a clam and asked me to ride with her to her house as she can't lift heavy items. No problem.
On the way, she says she wants to pay for the cake. I said no...end of story; I won't discuss it.

I write down instructions on where the dowels are etc. we talk for a few and then she runs me back home. When I got home, I opened my purse to drop in my house keys. Somewhere along the way, she managed to slip 4 twenty dollar bills into my purse...I have a drawstring bag, so I guess it was pretty easy to do.

I call her up, tell her I can't accept it, she won't hear of it. So this afternoon, I'm putting the money into an envelope, giving it to my daughter to give to her friend, who will then try to give it back to HER friend.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not an idiot. I would have loved to have kept it. That money would have come in pretty handy.

I don't know what will happen from there, but I'll let you know.

linedancer Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 3:47pm
post #19 of 50

I agree with GayeG, us FL gals need to get together and see what it would take to get the law changed. I am sure it would require a lot of dedication to try and get it done. I do cookies and cupcakes, not many cakes. I really don't even want to open a business. But I would like to take the occasional order when someone says, "Can you make me some cookie bouquets for centerpieces" or whatever. There has to be something between a commercial kitchen and breaking the law selling some cookies. JMHO

janelwaters Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 3:49pm
post #20 of 50

I totally agree about getting the laws changed in Florida!! I'm totally on board with you! Someone in another state just did this (texas??) I don't remember, but I say we follow in their footsteps and get it done!!!

clovely Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 3:57pm
post #21 of 50

Those girls gutsy enough for Craigslist can knock themselves out...no thanks. I guess if someone tried to complain about cakes being sold on Craigslist the authorities would laugh and say "call us when someone dies from it!" given all that's going on right now.

It might not be as hard as we would think to petition a few legislators for a bill in Tallahassee. I used to work in the State Senate; had a friend who was running for the House - too bad he didn't win or I'd lock this down for us!! But I'm wondering if it would open up a can of worms. I'd like to talk to ladies in other states where it is legal and see what the restrictions and limitations are on them. My understanding, in Florida, is that if you have a separate kitchen, it's OK. I'm sure there would have to be a restriction on pets in any home situation - I just have a little dog but banishing him from part of the house just really wouldn't work for me. So do I really want to go there? Yea, I guess, I might if it meant actually making a little money doing what I enjoy. I've tried the church-kitchen route before; maybe I need to look into that some more. The thought of having all my stuff somewhere else or lugging it back and forth just doesn't work for me...and then WHEN would I get cakes done if I had to be away from home either when the kids are in school or with dh - that gets complicated. I'm not totally sure I want to go down that road. I do have a friend who owns a restaurant and have thought about asking to use her kitchen - but when? Overnight?? I just don't know about that.

pianocat Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:17pm
post #22 of 50

I'm on board if anyone wants to petition state to consider changing the law here in FL. I don't accept money for cakes, I do them for friends and family only, and donate to the church for special occassions, but would love to be able to do it legally. Have looked into renting/or sharing a kitchen space, not sure yet.

SUELA Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:22pm
post #23 of 50

I did a cake last month for a friend and didn't charge her. She brought me some high end chocolate for "payment".

linedancer Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:25pm
post #24 of 50

clovely, do you know what the first steps would be? pm me if you want

Peridot Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:26pm
post #25 of 50

Does anyone know about Wisconsin laws? Is there anyone out there from Wisconsin?

janelwaters Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:29pm
post #26 of 50

http://www.flsenate.gov/Info_Center/index.cfm?Mode=About%20the%20Legislature&Submenu=1&Tab=info_center&CFID=139450330&CFTOKEN=94530260

So this is what I found out about Florida - I *think* we each need to petition our legislators - send emails and maybe one of them will pick it up - does anyone know any senators???

and, btw - I could be wrong about this being the first step - lets start a new thread about florida home baking...

globalgatherings Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 4:39pm
post #27 of 50

Cakedoll, Next time people force money on you like that, KEEP IT!!! It made her feel good to give it to you. If she couldn't afford it she wouldn't have given it to. I'm not saying you should go around charging people if you're not legal, BUT, that particular situation is different. If you made me that cake, it would make ME HAPPY if you kept the money I slipped to you and when you found it you could just call me up and say,"thank you, you really didn't have to do that" Remember "Giving" works both ways, makes the giver feel just as good as the recipient.

Kelly

clovely Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 5:01pm
post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by janelwaters

http://www.flsenate.gov/Info_Center/index.cfm?Mode=About%20the%20Legislature&Submenu=1&Tab=info_center&CFID=139450330&CFTOKEN=94530260

So this is what I found out about Florida - I *think* we each need to petition our legislators - send emails and maybe one of them will pick it up - does anyone know any senators???

and, btw - I could be wrong about this being the first step - lets start a new thread about florida home baking...




If anyone knows a Legislator personally, that would be a good place to start. If a few of us live in the same Senate or House district(s), it would be worth getting our info together and trying to make an appointment to see them or an aide in the District Office.

My daughter went to Kindergarten with my State Senator's daughter (Rhonda Storms) but I doubt she'd remember me ... she's tough, fair but tough - she might be a hard sell, though. But she's very fiscally conservative and pro-business so she'd be worth talking to. I don't know my new Rep, though. But she'd be worth talking to - her or an aide.

In this economy, with a little cottage-industry grass roots effort going on, it could even garner some media! We're not going to solve the state's budget problems but it seems like it would be a bad time to be turning away tax revenue from anywhere they can get it!

janelwaters Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 5:08pm
post #29 of 50

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-628864-.html

New thread about Florida bakers.

I was thinking the same thing- a personal connection is what we need!!

cakedoll Posted 27 Apr 2009 , 5:26pm
post #30 of 50

I'm down for trying. All the state can do is pooh-pooh us. With the dire financial straits this state is in right now, I would think they would happily take all the tax revenue they could get their hands on.

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