Filed Under: Soft Drinks

Joe Tax

“If you think taxing tea started a revolution, just wait.” That was Dan Rather on yesterday’s CBS Evening News, talking about the latest trend out West: taxing coffee. On the heels of a Berkeley, California, ballot initiative that could ban the sale of any coffee that doesn’t meet the java police’s definition of “fair trade, shade-grown, or organic,” a group of childhood education activists in Seattle wants to add a 10-cent tax to every espresso, mocha, and latte sold city-wide.

Like the Berkeley plan, a Seattle espresso tax will need the approval of voters in November, as well as thousands of signatures just to get it on the ballot. But activists in Seattle have a secret weapon: a promise that the $7-10 million raised annually will be strictly “for the children,” to be spent on a variety of child-care and teacher education programs. “A mocha-a-day habit,” notes the Seattle Times,
would add “just $36.50 a year” to your tax bill.

Seattle Times readers are beginning to notice that those clamoring loudest for the espresso tax — including the chairman of the “Early Learning and Care Committee,” the nonprofit entity spearheading the ballot initiative — are themselves in the child-care business, and thus
would directly benefit
from the resulting windfall. And many locals are nonplussed at the idea of stuffing a third-party pocket every time they visit Starbucks or Seattle’s Best. One exasperated barista at a coffee shop called Diva Espresso complained about the added expense, sarcastically asking the Associated Press: They’ve got a smoking tax, regular taxes, “why not a yuppie tax?”

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