Food and Drink Feed

Using taxes to try to shape people's actions is not new. A British monarch tried it back in 1678 with a beard tax. In modern times, governments worldwide have focused on sin taxes that typically are applied to things that aren't healthy, like cigarettes, fatty foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. One of the so-called soda taxes was approved by Philadelphia in 2016. It took effect on Jan. 1 of the next year, adding a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax to not just Cokes, as we Texans refer to all sodas, but also to sugary beverages like bottled and canned iced tea and sports drinks.... Read more →


Märzen Oktoberfest beer photo courtesy Kegerator Oktoberfest celebrations are wrapping up here in the German communities of Central Texas, as well as around the rest of the Lone Star State, nation and world. That means we'll all be back to drinking our regular routine beers. What won't change are the federal and state excise taxes collected on brewskis. Tax price of imbibing: It's a notable amount. The Beer Institute says that more than 40 percent of the retail price of beer comes from taxes. A big chunk of that is from the federal alcohol tax of up to 58 cents... Read more →


This is a regular spread in our kitchen, not just on Taco Tuesday or today's National Taco Day. (Kay Bell photo) Today is National Taco Day, which raises a big question here in Texas. Why is there just one specific day celebrating taco consumption? (Corollary question: why isn't it on an alliterative Tuesday?) We Lone Star State residents consume vast quantities of soft and crispy/crunchy tacos multiple times every day, starting with the most important meal of the day, the breakfast taco. Various foodstuffs, various taxes: The day commemorating a Tex-Mex favorite also raises the question among tax geeks about... Read more →


Emmanuel Macron, left, and Donald J. Trump at the beginning of the just-completed G7 session in France. As the international gathering closed, the pair announced a deal had been reached to ease U.S. concerns over France's digital tax and French worries about possible U.S. tariffs on Gallic wines. Good news for French wine fans. Donald J. Trump and Emmanuel Macron apparently arrived at a rapprochement at the G7 meeting in France this weekend. The threatened tariffs on French wines won't be imposed. That means the only taxes we wine drinkers will face are the long-standing U.S. federal and state-levied excise... Read more →


It's a big week for two North American countries. On Thursday, we United States residents celebrate July 4th, the day the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Celebrations already are underway north of the 49th parallel. July 1 is Canada Day. I've been a big fan of our northern neighbor for decades, initially discovering its delights as I fell in love with hockey when the hubby and I lived in Washington, D.C./Maryland and soon became Washington Capitals season ticket holders. That necessitated many trips to Canada to more fully appreciate the country where hockey was born. And while hockey... Read more →


The summer solstice has finally caught up with Texas temperatures. The first day of the sunniest season arrived today at 10:54 a.m. Central Time. By then, here in Austin we already were at nearly 90 degrees. It wasn't much of a climb for the thermometer, since our overnight temps for the last week or so have been hovering in the 80s. By the time we get to mid-afternoon, it will feel like triple-digit heat for the third straight day. That's why so many of us are thinking of heading to the Texas Gulf Coast, or as we called it when... Read more →


Happy St. Patrick's Day! March 17 is one the top days for beer drinkers, ranking up there with New Year's Eve and Mardi Gras celebrations. Guinness says 13 million pints of its stout will be consumed worldwide today in celebration of the Emerald Isle's patron saint. The average number of drinks is just more than 4 per person. The folks making all the Erin go Bragh toasts and the establishments selling the drinks aren't the only ones celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Here in the United States, all that beer, green or otherwise, and other alcoholic beverages are taxed. Sales tax... Read more →


It's turkey time! Thanksgiving spread photo courtesy Zeetz Jones via Flickr CC. Happy Turkey Day! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. It's subdued at our house this year, just the hubby and me. My mom is spending the day with some extended family. Plus, due to some dining issues created by recent oral surgery, our menu — OK, my menu — is limited to mashed potatoes and gravy. That means the hubby gets to pig out for the both of us. But I'm thankful that I can still enjoy the super creamy pumpkin pie that... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →


Manhattan businessmen meet over lunch. (Photo by Phillip Capper via Flickr Creative Commons) The way to a business contract is through a client's stomach. That revised adage underscores what every business person, whether they run a major corporation or a mom-and-pop company, knows: that personal relationships are key to success. And much of the time, those relationships are cemented over business meals. Business meals still tax deductible: The Internal Revenue Service this week gave business a break — or really left a tax break in place — when it comes to deducting the cost of business meals. The tax agency... Read more →


It's my second favorite holiday, National Ice Cream Day! Yep, it's a sorta real holiday, occurring every year on the third Sunday in July as part of National Ice Cream Month. So many ways to enjoy ice cream on National Ice Cream Day and any/every day. (Image courtesy GIFS for Humans Tumblr). National Ice Cream Day became official in 1984 when then President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring its existence. And even though the holiday was the brainchild of the dairy industry, I can't think of many more things as worthy of celebration than this beloved and iconic treat.... Read more →


With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best and worst of times for soda taxes. News out of Washington State today is that Seattle's sweetened beverage tax raised about $1 million more than predicted in its first three months. Seattle's tax — similar to others across the United States that tax a variety of sugary beverages but are popularly called soda taxes — took effect on Jan. 1, 2018. In its first three months as law, it reportedly raised almost $4.5 million. If that pace holds throughout the rest of the year, it will blow past the city's budget... Read more →


"On this day, take time to remember those who have fallen. But on every day after, do more; put the freedoms they died for to greater and nobler uses." — Richelle E. Goodrich, author During holidays, we're generally encouraged to remember the reason behind the special day. The two instances where this is most prevalent is Christmas and Memorial Day. Memorial Day's purpose often gets lost in the revelry of summer's arrival … except when your awash in a tropical storm's rain bands. But today is supposed to be more than time with family and friends at picnics, trips to... Read more →


A sampling of some of my favorite beers. Yes, this photo is a few years old (note the 2011 Christmas brew label), but rest assured, I regularly restock the refrigerator. Across much of the United States this Memorial Day weekend Sunday it's hot. Very hot. We're pushing 100 here in Austin. That's why many beverages will be consumed by folks out today at beaches, picnics and sporting events. Tax collectors thank you for your thirst, especially if you're slaking it with a cold brewski. Beer tax tallies: Beer drinkers annually make a $5.3 billion excise tax payment to state and... Read more →


Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Today is a commemoration of the Mexican Republic's victory in 1862 over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. While it's a national holiday in Mexico, festivities in that country are mostly located in and around the Puebla region. Here in the United States, however, Cinco de May is a big deal. That's especially true in Texas, where my native state once was part of Mexico. The Lone Star State's origins and the role of Mexican nationals and other Texians in helping establish Texas' independence in 1836 is one reason why we celebrate Cinco. That, and... Read more →


Apparently working on your taxes works up an appetite. That's the message from businesses offering freebies, or at least discounted items, on Tuesday, April 17, aka Tax Day 2018. Bagels, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches (sub, traditional and breakfast versions), cookies and Texas favorites corndogs (although some vendors — Yankees, perhaps? — call them hot dogs on a stick) and tacos (same culinary language nationwide) are there for your tasty taking on Tax Day. Taxes got you too stressed to eat? Take advantage of massages to ease you into a post-filing relaxed state. If you prefer to stay focused on the day's... Read more →


Like the never-ending string of decimals it commemorates, Pi Day continues. On this year's official March 14, 2019, celebration of this mathematical marvel, I'm reposting a previous π Day item, with its still applicable tax advice on rounding tax form entries. Doing taxes is all about the numbers. The forms require our Social Security number and that of our spouse and dependent children. Similar identification digits also are key on tax forms from, for example, our employers and other entities that contribute to our taxable income. And, of course, we have to put in all those figures about our earnings... Read more →


Throwing a Super Bowl Party? Gunaxin has some tips to help you make it the best party ever, regardless of which team wins. Are you hosting a Super Bowl party tomorrow? If your NFL championship game is typical — and I'm talking expense-wise, not your exemplar hosting abilities! — then you'll probably spend more than 200 bucks. That's what 1,000 folks recently surveyed by LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loan refinancing, said they planned to spend. The precise amount, according the results of the online inquiry conducted by Pollfish, was $207.16. That amount is this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


While I make my coffee at home during the week, I'm a Starbucks fan on weekends. During hot Texas summers, those icy Frappuccinos are heaven. Heck, even in our not-that-cold winters, I get them. (Note to Starbucks: I sooo missed the Chile Mocha option this past holiday season. This flavor should be a regular, year-round option, especially here in Texas where chile peppers are one of the major food groups. We even have an official state pepper. But I digress. But bring it back, please!) When we do get the occasional cold spell, I'm an Espresso Macchiato fan. My drink... Read more →


Most folks will ring in the new year by raising a glass. For many, it will be an adult beverage. For us, it's the local sparkling almond wine shown there at left. Traditional or more extravagant celebrants, however, will ring out 2017 and welcome 2018 with bubbly. More tax sparkle: The toasting with champagne will have extra meaning this year for the makers and importers of the fancy sparkling wine. Not only will they be celebrating more year-end sales, they'll be reveling in a significant reduction in 2018 taxes on their product. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, with the implementation of... Read more →