Monday, May 09, 2005

The Big Mac Tax

Hold on to your wallet in Detroit. The city of Detroit is apparently considering a special tax on fast food.
Faced with a $300 million budget hole, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is hoping people in this heavily taxed city won't mind forking over a few extra cents for their Big Macs and Whoppers.

Mr. Kilpatrick wants to ask Detroit voters to approve a 2 percent fast-food tax -- on top of the 6 percent state sales tax on restaurant meals. The mayor says consumers will barely notice the extra cents at the cash register. . .

If approved, the Detroit tax would be the country's first to target fast-food outlets. . .the tax would apply to anything sold at a fast-food restaurant . . .

"With Detroit, you're kind of grasping at straws because the tax base is so tapped into," Mr. Wassmer said.

Just how is 'fast food' defined? Besides the obvious chains like Wendy's and White Castle, officials have mentioned takeout pizza places and Detroit's ubiquitous chili dog restaurants known as Coney Islands. It's uncertain, however, where Starbucks or the corner deli would fall.
Is this a "fat tax," and is Detroit a nanny state?

Get out your little copy of the Constitution and look for the 14th Amendment. Can this fast food tax possibly be Constitutional? Think about it. The tax base here is not sales. The tax base here is the type of restaurant. The sales of hamburgers by an owner of a McDonalds will be taxed higher than the sales of hamburgers at the local brew pub. If you own a pizza joint and you have been letting customers take their purchased pizzas out to consume at home, then just stop sending your pizzas home and avoid the extra sales tax.

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