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How to 'take out' meals, and so pay 8% tax instead of 10%

14 Comments

Eight percent? Or 10%?

Weekly Playboy (Oct 7) offers a report that might have been titled, “The lighter side of tax increases.” The bureaucrats hardly knew the confusion they sowed when they devised a well-intentioned formula to lighten the burden on the poor. The consumption tax rise from 8 to 10%, effective Oct 1, will not apply to food items not eaten at restaurants.

Food is essential. Restaurant dining is not. Let restaurant diners, then, be taxed at the new rate. Groceries, or take-out food, will continue to be taxed at 8%.

Suppose this situation, says Playboy: You dine at a kaiten sushi restaurant, eat half your fare on the premises and ask that the rest be packaged for consumption at home later. Eight percent? Or 10?

Ten. Next question?

At a hamburger restaurant, you order a hamburger lunch and a glass of juice. You drink the juice there, take the hamburger out. What then? 

Juice: 10%. Hamburger: 8%.

You’re at an amusement park. You buy a snack at a kiosk. Where will you eat it? Sitting on a bench owned by the kiosk? Ten percent. On the bench five meters away operated by the park? Eight percent.

You enter a fast food restaurant. It’s crowded. You line up, reach the front, place your order. You’re asked, “Is this to eat in, or take out?”  

“Eat in.”

Your order is ready. You’re handed your tray. Is there a free table? You thread your way inside, looking for a vacant table. There don’t seem to be any – but what’s this? This guy’s food is not on a tray but in a bag. The situation is clear: He told the cashier he was taking out, paid the 8% tax, and then grabbed a table. He was cheating the government of 2%, and you of a place. What to do? Confront him personally? Complain to a staff member and demand that he be ejected? Either way – a nuisance at best, a row at worst. Somebody might get hurt. People are edgy these days.

Some convenience stores with eat-in areas, Playboy says, will display posters reading, “If you’re eating in, please tell the cashier.” Those saying nothing will automatically be charged 8%. If they eat in after all, it will be an extraordinarily dedicated cashier who pursues the matter. Most will surely turn a blind eye: “Let the government lose its 2% for all I care.”

Some restaurants are meeting the challenge with ingenuity – expanding their take-out menus, or slightly raising the prices of eat-in fare so the customer pays the same either way. Be that as it may, the new system is bound to encourage take-out dining. Why not do it in comfort? Playboy introduces various possibilities – folding mats, folding tables, portable chairs. Legions of people will no doubt discover this fall how much more pleasant it can be to dine under a tree than in a crowded, noisy restaurant. The golden leaves of the season may be more admired this year than ever.

But October fades into November. Life moves indoors. Then, for many, there will be only one attitude that makes sense: resignation. It’s only 2%, after all.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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This tax increase is turning out to be the biggest boondoggle I have ever experienced. They should have just raised the tax, but left it at 8% for food.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

“slightly raising the prices of eat-in fare so the customer pays the same either way.”

Eat-in tax will be 10%. Take-out tax will be 8%. A 100 yen hamburger will be 110 yen for eat-in, 108 yen for take-out. How will raising the eat-in price result in the customer paying the same either way?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Food is essential to human sustenance and should not be taxed at all. Likewise for medicines and housing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

That's the system in lots of EU countries. Medical care, medicines, eyeglasses, essential personal health/hygene items, diapers, children's clothing (basic), food, etc are free of tax. Luxury items are taxed at higher rates to compensate.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Food is essential to human sustenance and should not be taxed at all. Likewise for medicines and housing.

That's the system in lots of EU countries. Medical care, medicines, eyeglasses, essential personal health/hygene items, diapers, children's clothing (basic), food, etc are free of tax.

If you're going to have a consumption/sales tax, it's far more efficient and wise to just tax everything at the same rate at the point of sale and then have the government deposit a set amount of money into the accounts of everyone making under a certain salary. This would basically be a tax refund. This way poorer people can decide for themselves what is essential for them, and it closes the door to corruption and companies trying to lobby politicians to get their products on that exempt list.

The country I used to live in didn't want to tax any products used by children like clothes and books, but then large food manufactures started lobbying government for the same treatment. We ended up with laws that said if you bought 1-5 donuts you would pay tax, but if you bought 6 or more then you were probably buying for a family which might include a child so you paid no tax at all. This was just one of the craziest rules, but there were so many others that required a team of accountants and bureaucrats to sort out. The regulations and carve outs for well connected special interests just kept growing year after year. It's worrying to see Japan starting down this road.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Playboy introduces various possibilities – folding mats, folding tables, portable chairs.

I predicted penny-wise pound-foolish buffoonery would be in the article from the headline. If a folding chair costs 2000 yen ($20 U.S.) its going to take you 100,000 yen ($1000 U.S. ) worth of eating take-out to break even on that tax saving. Plus you had to lug the darn thing around everywhere. And had to go out into what weather with it? And that's just the chair. How much for a folding table and mat too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They will naturally err on caution and charge 10%.... it will be up to us to claim the -2%

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Prices of food items will also increase because of added taxes on imported raw materials and non-food materials such as packaging.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The circus continues unabated

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder how many public servant ( servant?) in Japan, that they need take one every tens? There are income tax, staying tax, or even death tax in the name of inheritance tax. They have take one every five in income, anothet one for every five of the death. Combining with consume tax then they get half of the money. If we add income tax, pension, vehicle, kotei shisan, etc...they still think of introducing new one..I wonder, why most Japanese why most Japanese do not even think to change yhe gov't in public election.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

California has a simpler system: Prepared food is taxed at a higher rate, unprepared lower or not at all, depending on local taxes. Buy a raw chicken, pay zero; buy a rotessiary chicken, pay the tax.

I suppose a root of the problem is Japan's bento culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“The bureaucrats hardly knew the confusion they sowed when they devised a well-intentioned formula to lighten the burden on the poor.”

When do the bureaucrats know anything?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"How To Kill an Economy 101" taught by the LDP....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

LagunaSep. 23  05:22 pm JST

“California has a simpler system: Prepared food is taxed at a higher rate, unprepared lower or not at all, depending on local taxes. Buy a raw chicken, pay zero; buy a rotessiary chicken, pay the tax.

I suppose a root of the problem is Japan's bento culture.”

How so? When I was working in California, back in the days before convenience stores, at lunchtime many of us headed to the nearby delicatessen or liquor store to buy a prepared sandwich and beverage to take to the park or back to the workplace to eat. Other people brought homemade lunches with them. They didn’t come packed in a bento box but I don’t see much difference in the basic concept. No one was buying a raw chicken at lunchtime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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