September 2, 2003

you like espresso? pay the tax.

POST #    340

10¢? why not 15¢ or even 25¢? better yet, 50¢ can be a cross marketing campaign.

in a move to raise money in these difficult times, there is a voter initiative in seattle to tax espresso. initiative 77, would add 10¢ to the cost of every beverage served in seattle that contains a half ounce or more of espresso. the anticipated windfall from this tax? $6.5 million (says one estimate) that will be used to pay for day care and pre-kindergarten for low-income children. the city says the tax will raise $1.8 million to $3.5 million. the $6.5 million figure was based on a statistic on west coast coffee consumption (.38 cups per person) and seattle's population and commuters (but when you calculate it, i'm not sure exactly how they got their $6.5 million .

why isn't this an idea that new york is considering? i couldn't find any statistics on east coast gourmet coffee consumption, but assuming .15 cups per capita (a rather low ball estimate if you ask me) for the east coast, 8 million people in new york city, and 1.5 million commuters, the city would collect $40.6 million a year (since i couldn't figure out the exact formula for seattle, i used $6.5 million x % difference in pop x % difference in coffee consumed). while $40.6 million is just a drop in the bucket, every million goes a long way in helping.

some think this is a step in the wrong direction, taxing the "luxuries" in life. well, those people need to suck it up. it's 10 freaking cents. do you really need your ten cents? i don't think so. i would say the children need the money more. and if you buy a luxury car, you pay more too, but people don't seem to care about that, just the espresso tax.

for more about this, check out the times or the initiative 77 website.

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink at 10:45 AM



Man, my other comment got erased. blech.

Down with the espresso tax! I don't drink espresso, but fundamentally I think the idea is just plain wrong. It's like taxing the shit out of cigarettes. I don't smoke, or like to be around people who smoke, but I don't think their right to give themselves lung cancer should be penalized. What if they put a 5 cent tax on sushi? I mean, it's only 5 cents. But is it right that when I want some Unagi I'll have to get it with a side of "subsidize someone else's day care?"

Posted by: FlatGreg at September 2, 2003 2:18 PM

don't you think one could argue that the tax on cigs is justified because smoking is a burden on the health system? granted, i don't think that's what the tax goes to, but i think that is one good argument for the tax.

and coffee...hmm, diuretic? causes people to need to pee, urinating in the streets or driving fast to get to their destination so they can pee? okay, so that's a long reach.

Posted by: tien at September 2, 2003 4:02 PM

mebbe they should jus tax krispy kremes in ny...

Posted by: halo at September 2, 2003 4:46 PM

well, it's slightly different, since i think more low-income people buy doughnuts than espresso, but if there was some proportional tax on doughnuts, i would be okay with that.

Posted by: tien at September 2, 2003 4:57 PM

Part of the problem is that when you tax one thing, it rarely goes to what you'd think it would. For instance I'm pretty sure cigarette taxes don't go to fund smoking-cessation programs.

And it's pretty much impossible to balances taxes like that. I mean some people eat donuts with their espresso. And some people eat neither. I'm not completely against the redistribution of wealth, but I hate it when it gets hidden in something like this.

Posted by: FlatGreg at September 2, 2003 5:35 PM

well, depending on the tax, it might go to smoking related programs. in ny state, the cig tax goes to a health fund, but in nyc, it goes to closing the budget gap. read more here. the tax in seattle is supposed to go to funding low-income child care.

and yes, who knows if the money actually goes to the right place.

Posted by: tien at September 2, 2003 5:53 PM

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