Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Tax Bites By The Numbers

November 13, 2008

The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation has created an enlightening chart that estimates how much more money Americans must pay for certain goods and services because of taxes. Some of the taxes — the kind I have tracked here — appear on consumers’ bills, but many others are hidden.

Here’s the rundown from ATR:

  • Cigarettes: 81.3 percent more
  • Distilled spirits: 79.6 percent
  • Car rentals: 60.6 percent
  • Beer: 56.2 percent
  • Domestic airfare: 55 percent (much more for international, based on reports from a friend who travels abroad frequently)
  • Landline phones: 51.8 percent
  • Gasoline: 51.2 percent
  • Hotel stays: 50 percent
  • Cell phones: 46.4 percent
  • Cable television: 46.3 percent
  • Firearms: 45.6 percent
  • Restaurant meals: 44.8 percent
  • Soda: 37.6 percent

I don’t drink or smoke, so I’m not personally affected by the “sin taxes.” And while I own a couple of hunting guns, I haven’t bought a new one in almost 20 years, so firearms taxes aren’t likely to rob me of more cash. But I have been hit by every one of the other taxes on the list more than once this year.

I keep a copy of ATR’s chart in my office at work as a stark reminder of how intrusive the government is in my life and my wallet. You should print a copy, too, at


Why Did I Eat Fish & Chips?

May 30, 2008

I’ve been asking myself that question ever since I finished lunch today. Even worse, why did I eat that greasy meal at the has-been Arthur Treacher’s chain? And why did I eat it in Alexandria, where the local taxes make the cost of such intestinal treachery even higher.

I hadn’t eaten at an Arthur Treacher’s in almost 20 years. Hopefully the 48 cents in taxes on top of the indigestion I’ll be feeling the rest of the day will be enough to make me stay away at least that long and preferably the rest of my life!

Subway Stinks

May 25, 2008

This entry has nothing to do with taxes. I just need a place to vent.

This letter I just e-mailed to Subway — after reading blog posts by Michelle Malkin, Home Education Magazine and Citizens For Reasonable And Fair Taxes — should tell you everything you need to know:

I hear that Subway is running a story-writing contest dubbed “Every Sandwich Tells A Story” but specifically discriminating against only one category of young people in the contest — home-schoolers. With that in mind, let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, a family of five, including three home-schooled children, lived two blocks from the Subway shop downtown.

Kimberly, the doting mother and dedicated teacher of Anthony, Elli and Catie, loved to take her children on lunch breaks to Subway during the week and to grab Subway sandwiches to go when the family went on school-related field trips. The family went to the shop so often that the workers knew them as regulars and what they would order as soon as they walked through the door.

Elli in particular loved the sandwiches at Subway so much that she regularly asked to stop at franchises when the family was on the road. For her, the choice always came down to Subway or Taco Bell.

Then one day, the corporate know-nothings at Subway decided to hold a contest and invite their loyal, young customers to write sandwich stories. Elli, a budding young writer whose father, Danny, is a journalist and blogger, was a perfect candidate for the contest. There was just one problem: Subway decided that Elli wasn’t good enough for its contest because she is taught by her mother — her mother, can you believe that?!

Danny was outraged when he read the news on the blog and in Home Education Magazine. Kimberly couldn’t believe it, either. They decided right then and there to write a pointed letter to the head sandwich honchos and, if necessary, never to eat at Subway again.

Elli was OK with that because she had another favorite. And so the entire family went to Taco Bell and lived happily ever after.

Subway’s nonsensical decision to exclude home-schoolers is all the more infuriating to those of us here in Virginia, which has a large home-schooling population and a whole lot of Subways. It’s the exact opposite mindset of the local roller-skating rink, which has a dedicated skating day for home-schoolers every Friday.

I hope Subway wakes up and reverses its policy for the writing contest, but I’m more than willing to sacrifice the occasional meatball sub to make an important point.

A Century Of Tax Mischief

May 5, 2008

My Dad forwarded to me an e-mail that included this gem about all of the taxes conceived in the minds of politicians over the past century (the impact of several of them on just our family has been chronicled on this blog):

Accounts receivable tax
Building permit tax
CDL license tax
Cigarette tax
Corporate income tax
Dog license tax
Federal income tax
Federal unemployment tax
Fishing license tax
Food license tax
Fuel permit tax
Gasoline tax
Hunting license tax
Inheritance tax
Inventory tax
IRS interest charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor tax
Luxury tax
Marriage license tax
Medicare tax
Property tax
Real-estate tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security tax
Road usage tax (truckers)
Sales taxes
Recreational vehicle tax
School tax
State income tax
State unemployment tax
Telephone taxes
— Federal excise
— Universal service fee
— Federal, state and local surcharges
— Minimum-usage surcharge
— Taxes on recurring and non-recurring phone charges
— State and local phone taxes
— Telephone-usage charge tax
Utility tax
Vehicle registration tax
Vehicle sales tax
Watercraft registration tax
Well permit tax
Workers compensation tax

The kicker to the e-mail: “Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?'”

Potluck Payout

May 4, 2008

A few home-schooling friends of ours gathered this afternoon for a music recital by some of the young people. Kimberly stopped for a bucket of grease from Kentucky Fried Chicken to contribute to the potluck event — 16 pieces of chicken and $1.02 in taxes. What a country!

Dying Of Tax Thirst

May 1, 2008

You can’t even get a drink these days without the government seeing it as another opportunity to collect taxes.

First, there is the news out of California about a Democratic assemblyman pushing a plan to tax beer at the rate of 1,500 percent. I’m a lifelong tee-totaller so this kind of tax wouldn’t affect me even if some looney lawmaker in my home state of Virginia made the idea his own, but 1,500 percent? That’s insane!

It also has college Republicans riled up in California. They confronted the lawmaker about his idea and posted video of the encounter on YouTube.

Across the country in Maine, there is a more outrageous plan to tax soda because it’s bad for you. Under a bill that the governor of the state just signed, two liters of carbonated consumption will cost Mainers an extra 22 cents.

As the Tax Foundation notes in its blog, this kind of tax is an outgrowth of the “sin tax” movement that began with the assault on tobacco — yet another reason to hate all sin taxes.

Road Trippin’

April 28, 2008

I made a trip to Atlanta last week for a work-related conference. It’s a 10-hour drive and I hate to fly, so I drove and was able to take Kimberly and the kids with me.

My company paid most of the tab, save for food and tourism for the family. I didn’t include the taxes my company paid in the weekly tax bite, but I wanted to make note of it in a separate entry just to give readers a sense of how much travel can add to the expenses their companies pay.

The tax tally for my Atlanta trip:
— Hotel (Courtyard Marriott in Buckhead): $76.50, for three lousy nights!
— Gas in South Carolina (35.2 cents a gallon): $9.60
— Gas in Virginia (38 cents a gallon): $5.35
— Food: $2.39

Most of my food was covered as part of the Heritage Resource Bank I attended. Taxes most certainly were paid on those meals as well, but I have no way of calculating them.

In any case, the Media Research Center is out somewhere around an extra $100 just because of the taxes accrued on one work-related trip. Imagine the tax bite taken out of companies across America every year because of travel. The number has to be astounding.

No Taxes On Bottled Water

April 23, 2008

I love the South, and I discovered another reason to love it today.

While on a road trip for a work-related conference in Atlanta, our family bought some bottled water at a Flying J in South Carolina. The state didn’t tax us one red cent for the right to satisfy our thirst. I couldn’t believe it!

Big Donut, Big Taxes

April 22, 2008

When I moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 1991, a friend introduced me to a giant donut called the “bear claw.” I loved them but haven’t had one in several years. I found one this morning in a coffee shop on the way to work and couldn’t resist.

I should have resisted because Aunt Virginia and her little sister (the city of Alexandria) robbed me of another 13 cents in taxes for the pleasure of imbibing in that giant donut. That made me sicker at my stomach than the sugar rush.

The Thirst For Taxes

April 7, 2008

I met a potential work-related client at Borders for coffee today. I don’t drink coffee, so I just bought bottled water. Because the tab was small, I won’t claim it as an expense at work.

That means I get to record the 5.75 percent in taxes I paid to the D.C. government. Yes, you read that right — 5.75 percent taxes on a bottle of water, another 10 cents out of my pocket.

Junk-Food Tax Junkie

April 6, 2008

Once a month on Sunday evenings, the teenagers at our congregation get together at the preacher’s house for a devotional. One family in the congregation has one son who is a bit younger and instead of going to the devotional with his siblings, he hangs out with our younger children for a couple of hours.

Bad parents that we are, we spoil our own children and our guest with junk food for supper. The taxes for tonight’s splurge at the grocery store set us back 17 more pretty pennies.

Render Unto Uncle Sam And Aunt Virginia

March 29, 2008

The men in our congregation have been gathering one Saturday morning a month for devotionals. We also usually go out for breakfast at the IHOP near the church building after we meet.

Today was the day for this month’s devotional, and we made that breakfast run. I ordered the breakfast sampler, a feast that added 41 cents to our family tax bill. The good news is I won’t be hungry the rest of the day.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain about taxes after a Bible study. After all, Jesus himself said to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” Uncle Sam prints the money, so he and Aunt Virginia are entitled to their cut.

On the other hand, God blessed America with a democracy that gives us the freedom of speech — and the freedom to blog. Unlike Caesar, Uncle Sam and Aunt Virginia welcome whining and complaining. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them.

Springing For A Springtime Meal

March 21, 2008

My parents have visited us almost every Easter since 2000, the first spring after we adopted our first child, Anthony. We love to have a family meal at home and watch the kids hunt Easter eggs.

Kimberly made another run to the grocery store yesterday to buy the food for that meal. She tossed a gallon of milk and a few other unrelated groceries in the cart while there.

The bill was $81.64 — all that for one quick trip to the store and a little more than one meal! — and the taxes were $2.41.

The Best Burgers And Wings In Town

March 21, 2008

Foster’s Grille is our favorite restaurant in Old Town Manassas. My parents enjoy it, too.

We haven’t been eating there as much since cutting back on our dining out experiences after my layoff, but we decided to splurge with my parents in town. We paid their tab, too. They always do tons of work on our behalf when they visit. The least we can do is buy them a nice meal once in a while!

And you know, Aunt Virginia, she just has to tag along with the rest of the family to get her cut. This time it was $2.38.

Virginia Taxes On A West Virginia Delicacy

March 19, 2008

Launch day finally arrived!

I changed jobs earlier this year, becoming the executive producer of a video-sharing site and social network called after my layoff at Technology Daily. The site was pretty much built before I signed on as the editorial leader, but the techies have been putting final touches on it the past several weeks while I expanded the content. Today, we started promoting the site.

It’s the kind of milestone that demands a celebration and my parents happen to be in town. Yesterday, I asked my Mom to make a West Virginia delicacy from my youth, pepperoni rolls, so I can introduce my co-workers to the treat. Kimberly also made a cake that Mom decorated with the Eyeblast logo.

Most Virginians have never heard of pepperoni rolls, but because we bought the ingredients in the Old Dominion, Aunt Virginia got to collect the taxes on the delicacy of her younger and better sister state. The taxes came to $1..02.

It was worth it. The pepperoni rolls were a hit with my co-workers who mustered the courage to try something new, and the cake hit the sweet spot for the rest of them. Thanks, Mom and Kimberly!