Restaurant tax: Yay or Nay?
by Justin McGill, General Manager -- jmcgill@cadizrecord.com
May 01, 2013 | 875 875 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Taxes!

Now that I have your attention ...

There’s been a movement afoot for quite some time in this community to institute a restaurant tax. For about the same amount of time, there’s been a similar movement in the opposite direction.

Newton’s Third Law: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. He wasn’t talking about debates on taxes, but he might as well have been.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Cadiz City Council, there will be a first reading of an ordinance proposing a 3 percent tax on sales in restaurants.

This tax would apply to prepared food, meaning it applies to more than just typical restaurants. Those of you who buy pizza at Godfather’s or Casey’s would pay the same tax as those who get theirs at Main Street Pizza. Those who like their meat-and-three from Cadiz Family Restaurant and Reva’s Place would pay the same tax as those buying similar food from the delis at Food Giant and Hancock’s Neighborhood Market.

The design of the tax is to boost tourism in our community by allowing for increased marketing efforts, with a projected total of $300,000 per year.

I’ve been hearing about such a tax since I returned to The Cadiz Record in early 2009, which shows there has been consistent support for it. The fact that it’s taken this long to get even a first reading of an ordinance shows that there has been just as much opposition.

Sound familiar? I certainly wouldn’t equate the sale of alcohol – a luxury – with the sale of food – a necessity. However, drawing a line from the wet-dry vote to a potential restaurant tax isn’t much of a stretch.

Except, of course, for the fact that a restaurant tax won’t be voted on by the people. Local government will make the decision.

That shouldn’t be a bigworry, however. In my estimation, local government – at least in these parts – has always been more attuned to the desires of the people.

Therefore, my suggestion is to take advantage of that. Citizens of Cadiz, you are represented by a city council member. Feel strongly about the restaurant tax? Tell your council member. Trust me, they’d much rather have your input than make their vote based on only their own knowledge and opinion.

That being said, let me throw some math at you. I know the following scenario is highly unlikely, but bear with me for the sake of argument.

Let’s say a Cadiz resident eats every meal at a restaurant and spends an average of $25 per day, including sales tax. In a 365-day year, that person will spend $9,125 on food. The proposed 3 percent tax of that amount would total $273.75 for the year.

I don’t know what the average person spends per year at restaurants, but you can at least figure out what you spend. So, before you decide where you fall on the argument, take the time to do the math and see how this tax would really impact your bank account.

Of course, you might be opposed to the tax on general principle, which I understand. “We’re already taxed enough. Why would I want to be taxed more?” I get that.

The other side of that coin holds the positives of such a tax – increased tourism, meaning increased local business, and for more than just restaurants.

I know many of our readers feel strongly about this. I hope they’ll make those feelings heard at Tuesday’s city council meeting, if not before.

Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.
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