Food and Drink Feed

The only thing we Texans take more seriously than our football (high school, college and pro) and politics (equally crazy at local, state and federal levels) is our barbecue. So it's no surprise that two of the three converged in George W. Bush's Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. A handwritten note from W's brother, then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current candidate to follow in his father's and sibling's White House footsteps, alerted Bush 43 of a Georgia barbecue joint's "Dubya's Texas Specials" and the meals' associated tax breaks. "Some people support that tax plan!," Jeb tells his older brother,... Read more →


A couple of years ago I made some lifestyle changes to improve my overall health. I started exercising more and I reduced sugar consumption. That second part was relatively easy. All I had to do was drink no more than one can of Coke -- and yes, while the brand name is how we Texans refer to all sodas, I truly am a Coca-Cola devotee -- a day. The Coca-Cola collection in our kitchen pantry. The hubby occasionally mixes in a can of Cherry Coke. I stick with the original. And yes, I have cut consumption. Our stash is big... Read more →


Ins explaining the United States to non-Americans, the quirky online comic website The Oatmeal notes that the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence through alcoholism, concussive explosions and by scaring the crap out of our pets. I thought the characterization was just part of cartoonist Matthew Inman's exaggeratedly offbeat sense of humor, which is further demonstrated by his July 4th drawing there to the left. But Inman nailed it. All across the country this long weekend we have the fireworks and terrified pets and, yes, the over-consumption of booze. Biggest booze days: Independence Day is one... Read more →


The money saving advice to grocery shoppers is don't go to the market when you're hungry. Today, I found a blogging corollary. Eat before you write about taxes. I didn't get around to having lunch before participating in an early afternoon sales tax webinar. So as I was finally scarfing down my midday meal at my desk, I got to thinking about taxes on food. At the 2015 Sydney International Food Festival, the Australian advertising agency Whybin\TBWA created food-based representations of the flags of 18 countries. I love Italy's green, white and red vertical stripes displayed as basil, spaghetti and... Read more →


Did you make New Year's resolutions? I quit doing so long ago, and I am not alone. Apparently fewer than half of Americans take a pledge to do or be better as each new year rolls around. But those who do make Jan. 1 promises typically have the same goals year after year. (That's one of the reasons I stopped making them.) Among the perennially popular resolutions, according to Uncle Sam's official Web portal USA.gov, are quit smoking and drink less alcohol. If those are on your 2015 to-do list, they also could save you some tax dollars, especially if... Read more →


Is an anti-soda trend finally getting a foothold? Berkeley, California, voters on Nov. 4 approved a tax on sugary beverages. That 1 cent per ounce levy will begin Jan. 1, 2015. Heading east across the San Francisco Bay, a majority of San Franciscans also supported a soda tax. However, a two-thirds vote on Election Day was needed to enact that tax. Look for health activists to continue the SF soda fight. And last week, another more localized tax that covers sodas as well as other foodstuffs won approval. The Navajo Nation Council signed off on a tax on so-called junk... Read more →


Berkeley, California, finally went where no taxing jurisdiction has gone before. Voters in the city on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay area overwhelmingly voted on Nov. 4 to tax sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and juice. No other town has ever done that. Just as impressive as the 75 percent pro-tax vote -- a simple majority was all that was needed for passage -- was that the Berkeley citizenry shut down the beverage industry, which spent more than $1 million fighting the ballot initiative. Approval of Measure D means that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Berkeley will levy... Read more →


The hubby and I prefer take-and-bake pizzas to the done-and-delivered variety. While that means one of us has to go pick up our pies, it also means we don't have to worry at all about taxes on delivery charges. Those extra tax amounts are the basis for two lawsuits, one in Florida and another in Illinois, against Papa John's pizza. The Illinois legal action, Zachary Tucker et al. v. Papa John's International Inc., was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Illinois. It contends that the pizza chain's charging of sales tax on their delivery fee violates Illinois... Read more →


Happy National Doughnut Day! I know, my first reaction upon learning of today's seemingly light-hearted gustatory event was dismay that it unfortunately fell this year on the very solemn commemoration of D-Day, the landing 70 years ago of more than 160,000 Allied troops to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. This largest seaborne invasion in history on June 6, 1944, was the beginning of the invasion of German-occupied western Europe. It led to the freeing of France from Nazi occupation and was a key to the Allied victory in World War II. But then I learned that... Read more →


Are you counting calories and still not losing as much weight as you'd like? Maybe counting taxes on the calories would help. A .04 cent per-calorie tax on sugary beverages would reduce consumption by 5,800 calories per person annually, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) study. Plus, says the study, the fractional per-calorie tax would save soda and other sweetened beverage drinkers money. Under the usual system of taxing sugar-sweetened drinks by volume, consumers pay the same tax whether they buy a 12-ounce sweetened drink with 150 calories or the same size beverage with added sugar but... Read more →


Happy St. Patrick's Day! Almost 40 million Americans (including me!) claim Irish heritage. That's almost seven times Ireland's population. And more of us enjoy any reason to party. That makes St. Paddy's Day a big one for businesses that cater to our festive natures. Internet statistics company Statista says (and illustrates in its infographic) that March 17 has become increasingly more popular in the United States. Last year, 56 percent of us celebrated parades, parties and pints. That figure was just 44 percent back in 2009. Translated to dollars, Americans collectively spend $4.7 billion on St. Patrick's Day every year,... Read more →


Food and beverages have long had tax connections. Some states tax groceries. Most tax restaurant and other prepared meals. State and federal excise taxes add to our potent potables' costs. Recently, though, taxes on the serving side of meals and drinks have caused trouble. One in three businesses with a liquor license in North Carolina is behind on taxes, according to an investigation by Raleigh television station WRAL. No tax toasts: Those establishments' nonpayments are costing the Tar Heel State nearly $46 million and some state officials want to start taking away liquor licenses as way to get the money.... Read more →


It's one of my most favorite times of the year. Girl Scout cookies are on sale! I'm a Thin Mints addict. I could eat a whole box in one sitting. They are great alone or crumbled over a bowl (or gallon) of vanilla ice cream. This has been a tasty temptation for as long as I can recall. So every year I buy more boxes than I should. I tell myself that the purchase is for a good cause, and it is. Thin Mints and the other varieties of cookies are a fund-raising project for the local Girl Scout troops.... Read more →


Did you finish off that bottle of Pinot Grigio with yesterday's turkey feast? Are you about to open another one to go with leftovers? Or maybe your prefer beer. Or you really, really need something a little stronger to deal with your crazy uncle's incessant political rants. Whatever potent potable you do select, a part of the price will go to tax collectors. If you opt for the hard stuff, a substantial portion of what you pay covers various taxes, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DSCUS). The national trade association for producers and marketers of... Read more →


I don't believe in going overboard with food on Thanksgiving Day. It's just the hubby, my mom and me sitting down at our table later today for a small roasted turkey breast, gravy, cornbread stuffing (made by me using my grandmother's recipe), fresh Brussels' sprouts, biscuits, cranberry sauce, ancho chili relish and for dessert pumpkin (baked by the hubby) and pecan (baked by Blue Bonnet Cafe) pies. By Friday night, all the food should be gone. OK, maybe we'll still have some pie left. Or maybe not. I do, however, believe in overindulging on Thanksgiving-related blog posts! Actually, I was... Read more →


Mexican lawmakers have finally hammered out a budget that includes a one-peso-per-liter, or about 8 cents U.S., tax on sugary beverages and an 8 percent tax on fast foods. The country's lawmakers and health activists hope that the new charges will help the country's residents lose not only weight, but also the unwanted title of the world's most obese nation. The legislative action has earned at least one piece of positive recognition. It's made 8 the winner of this week's By the Numbers honor. The tax is a crowning achievement for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who proposed it as... Read more →


Folks receiving federal help buying groceries are making do with a little less. The increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps (although most programs are via debit cards), ended on Nov. 1. Calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) show that for families of three, the cut will be $29 a month, or a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014. CBPP says the reduction means that SNAP benefits now will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014. In dinner table... Read more →


Good news compulsive tax planners! You now can get to work on your 2014 federal income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service has issued updated information for the 40 or so tax code provisions affected by inflation. To get the tax party started, below are tables of the 2014 individual income tax brackets. Single Taxable income: Tax rate: Up to $9,075 10 percent $9,076 to $36,900 15 percent $36,901 to $89,350 25 percent $89,351 to $186,350 28 percent $186,351 to $405,100 33 percent $405,101 to $406,750 35 percent $406,751 or more 39.6 percent Head of Household Taxable income: Tax rate: Up... Read more →


The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Foundation says the state's new candy tax is a constitutional trick and is suing to eliminate the tax on the sweet treats. Candy is only one thing subject to the state's new tax, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Sales tax also will be tacked on next year to the price of soft drinks, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers. But this Halloween week it is candy that's on most folks' minds. If the law stands, treats for little goblins and ghouls this time next year will cost more. Constitutional tax question:... Read more →


Here's something definitely not worth toasting. Craft beer brewers are now taking a hit in the federal government shutdown. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is no longer issuing permits to new breweries. TTB also approves new beer recipes and labels, which are on hold until Congress can agree on how to fund all federal agencies. This is a major problem for the craft beer industry, which relies on customers who are used to a regularly flowing supply of new and seasonal beers. Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, says the federal work stoppage could essentially... Read more →