Sometimes it pays to work for peanuts.
Nuts4Nuts offered New Yorkers who won't be getting any relief from the Republican tax reform plan approved by Congress this week a bite of the corporate tax cut it's anticipating under that bill.
The honey-roasted nut wholesaler gave away free bags of peanuts from a distinctly fragrant, branded pushcart parked on the Broadway side of Trinity Church in the Financial District to passersby in celebration of the holidays and in protest passersby who identified as members of the working poor or the middle class.
The giveaway was a form of protest against the sweeping, $1.5 trillion tax bill passed by the Senate and House of Representatives Wednesday morning in 51-48 and 224-201 votes, respectively. The legislation slashes taxes for corporations, business owners and individuals in the top income bracket, while providing middle-class households temporary and varying rates of tax relief.
“It’s a little hard not to feel something after these votes go down,” said Cliff Stanton, president of United Snacks, Inc., the company behind the trademarked Nuts4Nuts brand. “What it was for me was: Keep your money, we don’t need the corporate tax welfare.”
While the legislation has been characterized as “pillaging the American middle class to benefit the powerful and the privileged,” in the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican supporters say the tax overhaul will help businesses and individuals, while stimulating an expanding economy to grow even faster.
Stanton worries the bill now awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature will only widen the income gap between rich and poor, the registered Democrat said in a phone interview Wednesday: “Already the rich and corporations were not paying their fair share — now it’s a comedy, a very sad comedy.”
The Bronx resident’s own business, though small, stands to benefit from what will be the largest overhaul to the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years. The bill promises a permanent cut to the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 21 percent beginning Jan. 1. United Snacks is registered with the New York Department of State as a domestic business corporation, though it only employs up to six staffers at its Midtown West headquarters. (The pushcart vendors that sell its honey-roasted nuts under the Nuts4Nuts brand are technically self-employed.)
Stanton said he hopes Thursday’s peanut giveaway will set an example for larger corporations, encouraging them to redistribute their tax cuts to those who may be adversely affected by the revision: “Our idea was, ‘Look, we’re a small business, we’re not going to change the world with this. But if we can do it, corporations a gazillion times our size can do something.”
Both the United Snacks president and his business partner, Alejandro Rad, an Argentinian native who transformed a one-man pushcart operation into the Nuts4Nuts brand almost three decades ago, plan to supervise the holiday handout in person.
They expect New Yorkers that come forward to collect their bag of free nuts — under the condition that the tax bill harms their financial status — to be honest, but they won’t turn any takers away.
“It’s the holidays, we wanted to give a Christmas gift,” Stanton said. “The city has been good to us.”