Being Italian, I enjoy the pleasures of the grape as much as anyone. After all, wine is mentioned in the King James Bible nearly 200 times, so I cite that reference for anyone who requires validation, secular or otherwise.

I’ve also been known to enjoy a cup or two of espresso. In my mind, it’s the perfect complement to the regional cuisine of Italy or any menu items stemming from Mediterranean origins.

But if a Seattle group had its way, it might have gotten way more expensive to order an espresso or two in, ironically, the city that served as the national incubator to the $3 cup of coffee.

A group called the Early Learning and Care Campaign Committee drafted Initiative 77, which proposed to levy a 10-cent tax on espresso drinks in an effort to raise money for preschool and day care programs.

The tax would apply only to espresso drinks and not the standard regular drip coffee. I think it’s fair to assume that Howard Schultz, chairman of hometown Java conglomerate Starbucks, would have been able to wield a little influence over the Seattle City Council any quash any proposed tax on traditional coffee.

Proponents of the espresso tax however were able to garner some 30,000 signatures over the summer in an effort to get the measure on the ballot. But saner heads prevailed as the city council blocked the measure from going to public vote next month.

Now don’t get me wrong, both of my children went through the daycare and pre-school systems and I, most of all, recognize the critical importance of those systems. And in truth, they are often underfunded and understaffed.

But the espresso tax is the wrong thing for the right reason.

Want to tax something? How about levying a nuisance and parking tax for all suburban couples without children who drive sport utility vehicles the size of Peru?

How about a cell phone tax for inconsiderate dolts who feel compelled to use them on elevators, sharing their inane dialogue before a captive audience?

In other words there are probably a half-dozen better ways to generate money for worthwhile programs. And who’s to say that the idea, if passed in Seattle, won’t spread to other cities?

Want a good storyline for NBC’s Fear Factor?

Have a local IRS representative try to collect an espresso tax in any restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan. Now that would be worth an extra 10 cents per cup to watch.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access